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Attachment: An emotional bond between two people. It is a two way process that endures over time and leads
to certain behaviours such as proximity seeking and clinging. It serves the function of protecting two people.
Learning Theory (Cupboard Love Theory)
Learning theory is put forwards by behaviourists who focus their explanations solely on behaviour.
All behaviour is learned
Classical conditioning Food produces pleasure, so the feeder is associated with food so also
produces pleasure. Food reduces discomfort.
Operant conditioning Food is primary reinforcer, `feeder' becomes secondary reinforcer
Classical conditioning involves learning through association. Ivan Pavlov first described this type of learning.
Dogs: Food is the unconditioned stimulus and drooling is the unconditioned response. The bell is the
conditioned stimulus and the drooling is the conditioned response.
Humans: Food is the unconditioned stimulus and produces pleasure which is the unconditioned response.
The person who feeds is the conditioned stimulus and the pleasure associated with food is the conditioned
response which causes the attachment.
Operant Conditioning is the idea that each time something happens there is a good or bad consequence so
you are either rewarded or punished, this depends on if you repeat the behaviour again.
Dollard and Miller (1950) suggested that when an infant is hungry they feel uncomfortable therefore want to
reduces this discomfort. When the infant is fed there is pleasure which is rewarding, so food is the primary
reinforcer and the person that helps avoid the discomfort is the secondary reinforcer. Attachment occurs
because the child seeks the person that can supply the reward.
Although we do learn through association and reinforcement, food may not be the primary reinforcer
it may be that attention and responsiveness from the caregiver are also important
Harlow showed that food is less important that comfort
Schaffer and Emerson found that infants are not necessarily attached to those that feed them
Evolutionary perspective Bowlby's Theory
Attachment is adaptive and innate, related to imprinting for survival
There is a sensitive or critical period for attachment with all animals
Care giving is innate and adaptive, it is aided by social releases
A secure base allows children to become more independent for exploration
Primary attachment is most important (monotropy) but secondary attachments that form a hierarchy
are also important
The internal working model developed on primary attachment relationship helps children predict
what is going to happen next
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Continuity hypothesis suggests a link between early attachment and later social/emotional
Adaptive Behaviours that increase the likely hood of survival
Innate Characteristics that are inborn, a product of genetic factors
Imprinting an innate readiness to develop a strong bond with a attachment figure during the sensitive period
Sensitive Period A period of time in which the child is specifically sensitive to specific stimulation, resulting in
the development of a specific response or characteristic
Social Releases A social behaviour that induces a care giving reaction…read more
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Insecure Disorganised Attachment Lack of consistent patterns in social behaviour. Infants lack any strategy
for dealing with the stress of separation.…read more
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Evaluating Types of Attachment
Bowlby predicted that there would be continuities between early attachment and later relationships.
Prior and Glaser (2006) suggested that behaviour in later childhood is linked with earlier experience.…read more