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Behaviourists argue that all Classical conditioning: Learning is through association
behaviours, including attachment is - Getting food naturally gives a baby pleasure.
acquired through learning. The theory - The person providing the food (usually the mother) becomes
links attachment to pleasure and associated with this pleasure and becomes a conditioned stimulus
focuses on the baby wanting it needs which will produce the pleasure.
fulfilled. Learning takes place through - The food giver becomes a source of pleasure regardless of
processes of classical conditioning whether or not food is supplied
and operant conditioning. - An association is formed between the baby and mother
- Therefore whenever the mother is around the baby, it will feel
Key studies: Pavlov's dogs. - According to learning theory this is the basis of attachment
It was first proposed by Pavlov who go Operant conditioning: Learning through the consequences of
dogs to salivate to the sound of a bell. behaviour (positive/negative reinforcement)
The dogs learnt to associate the bell
- Being fed satisfies the infants hunger and makes it feel
with their food and would salivate
when the bell rang
- Anything that is rewarded is more likely to be repeated; the infant
Dollard & Miller -focused on drives. will smile and cry to bring desired results from the mother
They focused on the fact that all
humans have primary motives such as - The infant learns that food is a reward the primary reinforcer
primary drives of hunger or thirst. - The caregiver provides the food as a reward which reduced the
Obtaining food results in a reduction in drive, this becomes the secondary reinforcer
this drive e.g. the infant when hungry - From then on the infant seeks to be with this person because they
feels uncomfortable and enters a are now a source of rewards. The infant then becomes attached to
drive state. This drive motivates the this person . Key idea: ATTACHMENT IS WITH THE PERSON WHO
child to find some way to reduce the FEEDS IT.
discomfort e.g. the child will cry and
the mother will feed it.…read more
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A02 of learning theory.
+ `we can learn by making - Does not mean that infants automatically attach to the
associations' this could easily be person who is feeding it e.g. responsiveness from a
applied to forming attachments caregiver is important for attachment
- Infants can attach to adults who are not involved in their
caregiving (Shaffer and Emerson) feeding did not appear
to be a major factor in the formation of these attachments
Evaluation: learning theory cannot be the whole explanation
Harlow's monkeys it contradicts - These ideas are too simple to explain a complex
learning theory as attachment is behaviour such as attachment reductionists (reduces
based on comfort rather than food. complexities of human behaviour)
These were the findings of Harlow
in his lab observation.…read more
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Evolutionary theory vs.
A02 of Bowlby's theory: Key differences between evolutionary theory and
- Genes cannot be checked learning theory:
- Critical period is questionable
- Support of Monotropy by Tronick - Bowlby says attachment is innate whereas learning
etc. theory states that infants learn to attach through food and
- Schaffer and Emerson contradict the person providing the food.
attachments - Bowlby says the critical period exists whereas for learning
theory there is no critical period as attachment is learned.
A02 of learning theory:
Extra points to remember:
- reductionist theory as it is too
simple - use Harlow's monkeys research as an evaluation of
- Babies can attach to others who learning theory as it contradicts learning theory as
don't feed it (Schaffer an Emerson attachment is based on comfort rather than food.
showed this in their research)…read more
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Ethical issues: research was highly Aims: to test to see if attachment is just to the person who
unethical (in the 1950's it was classed feeds the child.
as acceptable to carry out)
1. Possible monkeys were
Method: had a dummy made out of wire and another made
psychologically and emotionally
harmed from cloth, soft material. Then let the monkey choose which
was more safe in different situations.
2. Did not give consent
3. Could not withdraw from the
experiment Findings: although the monkey was raised by the metal
- Today this research would not be mother it went to the cloth monkey for safety.
- Today the British psychological Conclusion: the infant becomes attached to the mother who
society have guidelines which makes it safe not who feeds it.
psychologists must abide by
- May not be possible to generalise
research from animals to humans. Evaluation: this research supports Bowlby's evolutionary
The findings may not apply to theory of attachment.
humans, it may provide an insight
into human behaviour.…read more
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Mary Ainsworth extended the work of The stages:
Bowlby. She focused on different 1. Mother and infant are introduced to the experiment room
attachment that infants formed with their (room had toys scattered on the floor)
caregivers. She devised the strange 2. Mother and infant are left alone and child is encouraged to
situation to assess how children would explore and play with toys
react under conditions of stress in an 3. Stranger enters the room and talks to mother, the stranger
unfamiliar environment. She focused on 3 then interacts with the infant
concepts 4. Mother leaves the room, stranger interacts with the infant
1. Separation anxiety (offers comfort if needed)
2. Stranger anxiety 5. Mother returns and greets infant. Stranger leaves
3. Reunion anxiety 6. Mother leaves infant again. Infant is now alone
7. Stranger enters again and attempts to engage with infant
8. Mother returns, greets and picks up the infant. Stranger
- Strange situation (strange Findings:
environment for mother and child Secure: 66% high willingness to explore, high stranger anxiety,
- Approximately 100 American infants distressed on separation but easy to sooth, enthusiastic upon
aged 12-18 month reunion, caregiver sensitive to infant.
- Used controlled lab observation Insecure Avoidant: 22% high willing ness to explore, low stranger
- Consisted of 8 3 minute stages where anxiety , indifferent on separation, avoids contact upon reunion,
the infant was a) left by the caregiver caregiver may ignore infant.
with a stranger, b) reunited with Insecure resistant: 12% low willingness to explore, high stranger
caregiver and c) left entirely alone anxiety, very distressed on separation, seeks and rejects mother
- Infants were observed through a one upon reunion, mother undecided.
way mirror by researcher and mother…read more