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All behaviour is learned and we are born a "blank slate". Within learning theory there are 2 types of
learning; Operant conditioning and classical conditioning.
Operant conditioning: Learning via reinforcement, positive or negative
Classical conditioning: Learning via association i.e. making a link between 2 things
Bowlby's theory of attachment
Bowlby believed that children have a biological need to attach to their main caregiver (who he
thought should always, if possible, be the mother). He thought that attachment in babies serves the
purpose of survival. The logic behind this was simply, babies are physically helpless and need to be
fed, cared for and protected. Without any of this they would not be able to survive. As a results
humans have evolved in a way that infants are now born with this innate tendency to form an
attachment to increase chances of survival.
Bowlby also had certain part to his theory which are;
Adaptive: Attachments are adaptive as they give our species an "adaptive advantage", making us
more likely to survive.
Sensitive period: According to Bowlby this is from 7 months to 2 and a half years in human infants,
and is the time when an attachment should be formed. If a child does form a main attachment in this
time then child will be damaged intellectually, physically and emotionally.
Social releases: Include smiling and crying in babies. They give caregivers a drive to want to care for
Monotropy: Bowlby believed infants form one special attachment with their mother. However if
mother isn't available the infant can bond with another ever-present adult, mother substitute.
Internal working model: Bowlby thought that the monotropy worked as a "schema" for what
relationships in the future will be based on.
Evaluation of Bowlby's theory of attachment
Lorenz- Imprinting on geese chicks showed "imprinting". This shows that many animals form
attachments, meaning making attachments is inherited and not learnt. One problem with the study,
however, is that it can only be generalised to humans to a degree as the study was done with
Hazan and Shaver- Put a quiz in the paper about childhood and adult relationships. There was a
correlation between people who had had bad relationships in childhood and bad relationships in
adult life , and vice versa. This link is known as the "Continuity hypothesis". A problem with the study
is that people flling it out may have succumbed to social desirability bias.
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Schaffer and Emerson- Did a longitudinal study on 106 babes in Glasgow. Results showed that by 7
months 29% of babies had multiple attachments and by 10 months 59% had multiple attachments.
Also found that babies didn't always form the strongest bond with the mother. Criticises theory as
the theory states that main bond should be with mother.
The temperament hypothesis- This hypothesis is an alternative to the "Continuity hypothesis".…read more