The learning theory

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The learning theory
Attachment is a two way, enduring, emotional tie to a specific other person.
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:
Learning theories say we have to learn to attach (nurture)
Classical conditioning
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.
Conditioned- learned
Food is an unconditioned response Baby feels pleasure (unconditioned response)
The mother is the neutral stimulus Baby does not respond (no innate response to
the mother)
Babies learn that the food comes from their mum conditioned response to their
After time baby feels happy with mum even if there isn't any food because they have made the

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Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning is a type of learning that takes place because of rewards and
The association is made between an action and a reward (called a reinforcer)
Baby cries (action)
Baby gets food from the mother (reward, reinforcer)
Baby continues to cry (repeats action) to get food This happens repeatedly until the
association is made The mother with the food due to the reinforcing or rewarding of food.
Strengths Weaknesses
Realistic- Gives an explanation which Reductionist- `reduces the complexities
seems understandable.…read more


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