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What is the learning theory?
The learning theory is the view put forward by
behaviourists (They assume that what we do is
determined by the environment we are in,
which provides stimuli to which we respond) to
explain how all behaviour is acquired, using the
principles of conditioning:…read more

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Classical Conditioning
Dogs salivate when they feed. Salivation is an
unconditioned response (UR) to an
unconditioned stimulus (US), in this case food.
The stimulus (US) and response (UR) are
innately linked. If a bell is rung every time food
appears, the animal comes to associate bell and
food so that the bell alone will produce UR. The
bell was a neutral stimulus (NS), but is now a
conditioned response (CR). Thus the animal has
learned a new stimulus ­ response link.…read more

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We can explain attachment in terms of the
principles of classical conditioning. An infant is
born with reflex responses. The stimulus of food
produces ­ an unconditioned stimulus and an
unconditioned response respectively. The
person providing the food (usually the mother)
becomes associated with this pleasure and
therefore becomes a conditioned stimulus. The
food-giver then becomes a source of pleasure in
herself, independent of whether or not food is
supplied. This, according to the learning theory,
is the basis of the attachment bond.…read more

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Operant Conditioning
An animal is placed in a cage where food will be
delivered if it presses a leaver. At first the
animal presses the leaver accidentally and is
rewarded by receiving food. This reward
increases the probability that the behaviour
(lever pressing) will be repeated. The food or
reward is reinforcing. If the lever press results in
an electric shock, this will decrease the
probability of the response being repeated. The
shock acts as a punishment.…read more

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Dollard and Miller (1950) proposed a further
adaption of the learning theory account of
attachment, based in part of operant
conditioning, but with the inclusion of mental
state (mental states are usually excluded from
behaviourist accounts). Dollard and Miller
suggested that the human infant, when hungry,
feels uncomfortable and enters a drive state.
The drive motivates the baby to find some way
to lessen the discomfort of being hungry. Of
course, in early infancy the baby can do little
more than howl, and it is up to other people to
feed it. Being fed satisfies the infant's hunger…read more

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