Attachment (learning theory)

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  • Attachment
    • Maurer and Maurer
      • Suggest that attachments are "welded in the heat of interactions". This means that attachment depends on interactions between two people, rather than simply being together.
    • Maccoby
      • Identified four key behaviours of attachments- Seeking closeness in times of distress, distress when separated, pleasure when reunited and general movement of behaviour towards primary caregiver.
    • Learning Theory!
      • Classical conditioning
        • Watson proposed the process of CC based on Pavlov's observations of dogs which salivated in response to a bell which had previously been associated with food.
        • Classical conditioning is learning through association.
        • Can be used to explain the basis of the attachment bond: Neutral stimulus (mother)+ Unconditioned stimulus + Unconditioned response (pleasure) = Conditioned stimulus (food) + Conditioned response (pleasure)
      • Operant Conditioning
        • Behaviour is learnt through punishment and reward.
        • Dollard and Miller used operant conditioning to explain attachments.. attachment is due to drive reduction. Hunger and cold have a strong motivation effect on the child, driving it to satisfy its need by eating or seeking warmth. by doing so they it results in drive reduction which rewards the child.
      • Harlow and Harlow
        • Tested learning theory with monkeys. Came to the conclusion that monkeys have innate, unlearned need for contact and comfort.
        • Problems with this study is that it cannot be generalized to humans, and that it is unethical due to the stress it caused the monkeys.


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