Learning theory of attachment

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  • Learning theory of attachment
    • Explanation
      • All behaviour is learnt rather than it being innate
    • Classical conditioning
      • Pavlov's dog
        • Stimuli of food became associated with a bell and became a conditioned stimulus
        • Saliva was a response to the food, so salivating due to the bell was a conditioned response
      • Learning through assocation
    • Operant conditioning
      • learning occurs through positive and negative reinforcement
      • Dollard & Miller (1950)
        • Infants drive to reduce negative feeling of hunger
        • Food creates pleasure
        • Food becomes a primary reinforcer as it stops discomfort
        • The Primary care giver becomes a secondary reinforcement because they supply the food
    • Evaluation
      • Strengths
        • Provides an adequate explanation for how attachment forms
      • Limitations
        • food may not be important in attachment
          • Harlow's monkeys (1959)
            • Monkeys spent most of their time with the cloth mother despite the fact that the wire one provided food
            • in a follow up study they also found that when frightened, the monkey would flee to the cloth mother; indicating they were more attached to that one
        • Human studies
          • Schaffer & Emerson (1964)
            • observed 60 babies for a year
            • They were attached to who was the most responsive, not who fed them the most


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