You might think the reason I chose this title was to grab your attention but the truth is that several experiments* have been conducted on animals with the purpose of discovering how the brain works and how the results can be used to improve humans life – proving once more that animals are a lot more than just Man’s best friend.
Many animals have similar systems to the ones we have, and by applying the results of some of the experiments to human beings have uncovered several methods of improving human life.
The monkeys that learned fear:
Monkeys that don’t fear snakes were introduced to some snakes while being forced to listen to loud, scary noises. Some monkeys learned to fear snakes as a result of this experiment but what’s more astonishing is that when monkeys that didn’t fear snakes were allowed to see the fear response of monkeys that fear snakes they learned how to fear snakes too!!!
Conclusion: We learn to fear things when we associate them with another event, for example a child might fear darkness after associating it with the noisy sound that happened when his mother slammed the door of a dark room.
Moreover, if a child watched an adult reacting with fear to a certain situation the child will develop fear too!!
The frog that died in the boiling water:
When a group of frogs were thrown in boiling water they jumped out of the pot very quickly and managed to survive. However, when the same frogs were put into cold water that was slowly heated, all of them perished when the water came to a boil, because they didn’t have time to react
Conclusion: We can feel sudden changes but when the change happens over time we don’t feel it until it is too late. People don’t develop bad habits over night nor do they experience severe behavior changes in a short period of time but everything happens bit by bit.
The Rats that failed to swim:
A researcher brought some wild rats, ones that are known to be able to swim for 80 hours continuously, then frightened them by making them believe that they were stuck before throwing them in water.
Many of the wild rats died after a few minutes of swimming! The rats didn’t drown due to lack of ability but at some point they just gave up swimming and died!!
When the rats felt in control they were able to swim for many hours but as soon as they felt that they were not in control they lost hope and drowned.
Conclusion: When we feel in control we can reach our maximum potential, while if we feel out of control we give up trying even if we have the required skills.
The dogs that learned to be helpless:
Few dogs were placed in room that has a switch that can either turn on electric current and shock the dogs or turn it off. When the dogs were first shocked they kept jumping around until one dog pushed the switch and discovered that the electric current stopped.
Later on whenever the electric shock was turned on the dogs rushed to turn it off using the switch. These dogs were split into two groups where the first group remained in the same room while the second one was placed in a similar one that had a faulty switch.
When the second group was shocked the dogs tried to push the switch but nothing happened. The second group of dogs were returned to the first room then were shocked again but this time they never tried to push the switch!!!
The dogs learned to become helpless as a result of feeling helpless after pushing the faulty switch!!
Conclusion: No one is born helpless but we learn how to become helpless when we face certain situations that we fail to deal with. Always try to do something about your problems because if you didn’t act you might develop learned helplessness!!
*this article is not in any way an endorsement of animal testing
Farouk Radwan is a Guest Blogger for PickTheBrain and the founder of 2KnowMyself.com – The ultimate source for self understanding 9,000,000 Million visits and counting…