Stereotype-Based Helplessness: Statement of the Problem



The work is devoted to the analysis of phenomena associated with the aging period: stereotypes about aging and learned helplessness. For several decades, modern society has been facing the problem of improving the quality of life of older people in the face of increasing life expectancy. The formation of aging strategies at earlier stages is considered as one of the most progressive approaches to improving the quality of life. However, the use of these strategies is mediated by both negative and positive factors. Our analysis shows that at the junction of two specific psychological phenomena — stereotypes about aging and learned helplessness, there may be another little-studied mechanism — stereotype-based helplessness. Our analysis showed that stereotypes about aging are widespread and have a variety of effects, including positive ones, however, the power of negative effects is several times higher than positive ones. In turn, learned helplessness is a mechanism when, based on his/her negative experience, a person stops trying to achieve any result. We suggested that the basis for such helplessness can be not only the direct experience acquired by a person, but also the stereotypes one has learned. The concept introduced by us has a high potential for both theoretical and practical applications. We believe that a decrease in activity caused by stereotype-based helplessness can cause accelerated processes of curtailment of mental functions during aging, as a result, the study of the mechanisms of stereotype-based helplessness will, on the one hand, expand our understanding of the mechanisms of aging, first of all, evaluate this mechanism as a risk factor for productive aging, on the other hand, understanding the psychological predictors of stereotype-based helplessness will help in the future to create practical techniques to reduce the risks of its manifestation.

General Information

Keywords: aging, effective aging, stereotype-based helplessness, ageism, learned helplessness

Journal rubric: Empirical and Experimental Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The study was supported by the Russian Scientific Foundation, grant no. 22-28-00869

Received: 13.10.2022


For citation: Strizhitskaya O.Y., Petrash M.D., Golubitskaya D.I., Kuzmina M.G. Stereotype-Based Helplessness: Statement of the Problem. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2023. Vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 136–146. DOI: 10.21638/spbu16.2023.201. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Olga Y. Strizhitskaya, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Saint-Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Marina D. Petrash, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Saint Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Daria I. Golubitskaya, Saint-Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, e-mail:

Maria G. Kuzmina, Saint-Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, e-mail:



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