Attachment - Learning theory

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  • Created by: Charlie
  • Created on: 03-05-13 11:25
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  • Attachment - Learning theory
    • A01
      • Learning theory states that attachment is a learned process,that all behaviour is acquried through ethier operant or classical conditioning.
      • Classical Conditioning - Pavlov demonstrated classical conditioning in his study on dogs.
        • Firstly when a dog saw food, it started to droll. This is an UNCONDITIONED reponse to an UNCONDITIONED stimilus.
          • If a bell is rung every time food is rung (which is a NEUTRAL stimilus/ has no effect on the dog). The dog will begin to assoate the bell with food.
            • After the bell has been rung with food enough times, through assocation the bell on its own will be enough to make the dog droll.
        • A simular process happens in babies when forming an attachment with their mothers/primary caregiver.
          • When a baby is fed it feels pleasure, this is an unconditioned reponse to an unconditioned stimilus.
            • When the baby is fed its mother is always there, the mother is a neutral stimilus. Before long the baby will assoate the mother with a comfort of feeding
              • Soon the mother on her own will produce the feeling of pleasure of feeding.
      • Operant conditioning - this is the process in which a behavour is learned through reward and punishment.
        • Skinner demonstrated operant conditioning on his study on mice.
          • 1) Firstly the mice are placed in a box woth a container of sugar pellets that are attached to a tube which lead to a feeding bowl.
            • 2) when the mice were in the half of the cage closest to the feed bowl, the researcher would realse a food pelllet. This was done a few times and the mice were begining to stay in the forst half of the food bowl.
              • 3) The researcher stop giving the mice food pellets so they start to move closer to the food bowl. One of the mice accentially put there paw on the lever which automaticly realaed food, the mice eventually learned this and began pressing lever when hungry.
                • The food reinforced the action of pressing the lever. when an action is reinforced it is more likely to be reapeated
          • We can apply this process to how a baby will form an attcachment with its mother.
            • 1) When an infant cries, its mother gives them a bottle to comfort them. This rewards the infant.
              • The infant associates the mother with the reward.
                • Thus they will repeat any action that will bring her close, like crying, making a fuss. Since they have been postively reinforced.
                  • This happens because the food brings a feeling of pleasure to the child. Food is a primary reinforcer bt removing discomfort and thus reinforces any behaviour that leads to its arrivial. When food comes the mother is usually always bringing it, thus she becomes a secondary reinforcer. After a while even without bring food, the presence of the caregiver will bring about feelings of pleasure and reduces discomfort. This is the begining of attachment
    • A02
      • Reserach
        • HARLOW 1959 - the significance of feeding was challenged by Harlow an experiment on rhesus monkeys.
          • 1) 8 new born monkeys were separated from their mothers and isolated in separate cages. Each were provided with two surrogate mothers; one was cloth which provided comfort, and the other was wire with a bottle attached to it, providing food.
          • 2) leraning theory would predict the monkeys would become attached to the wire monkey, due to food being provied. However the monkeys would only go to the wire monkeys to feed and spend most of their time with the cloth mother.
            • Advantages - Harlow research is very influential, his single most important claim was that comfort and security rather then feeding was the basis for attachment. This challenged the learning theory of attachment, that food was the reason why we become attached to our mothers.
              • Disadvantages - based on monkeys, and thus can't be generalized to humans (much more complex). Unethical, its wrong to manipulate animals in this way, very damaging effects on monkeys in later life.
          • 3) harlow concluded that comfort and sercurtity were the basis for attachment rather than food. However this attachment was not sufficient for healthly social development. in later life the monkeys had trouble mating and were abusive to the rest of their kin.
        • Schaffer and Emerson 1964 - in their study fewer then half the infants had a primary attachment to the one who fed and changed them.
      • Evaulation of theory
        • Learning theory can be criticized for being to simplistic, meaning that it simplify complex human behavior in to overly simplistic ideas; like Reinforcing behavior with food.



really good information! could be set out in a more 'user friendly' way. Extremely helpful and detailed. Thank you!

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