AS psychology-Attachment and Early Social Development

What is attachment?

An emotional bong between two people. Leads to behaviours such as clinging and proximity-seeking and serves the function of protecting an infant. (caregiver and infant)

Two explanations; Learning theory (learnt) 

                                Bowlbys theory (biological)

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Learning theory

Suggests infants are born as 'blank slates' and ALL behaviour is 'learnt'.

Nurture rather than nature.

'Cupboard love theory' suggests infant becomes attached because it 'learns' that the caregiver will meet their physiological (nurtitional) needs.

Attachment is learned by classical conditioning (learning by association).

Child learns to associate caregiver with their needs (being fed), attachment is formed.

Stimulus of food produces pleasure.

Caregiver becomes a conditioned stimulus.

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Drive reduction theory

Dollard and Miller

Argues all organisms are born with certain physiological needs and negative tension is created when needs are not satisfied.

When satisfied, drive is reduced and organism returns to a state of relaxation.

Suggets infants are born with innate drives, such as hunger and thirst, only a caregiver (mother) can reduce.

Classical conditioning, infant associates mother with satisfation of reduced drive.

Mother becomes a source of satisfaction in herself.

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Research into Learning Theory

Harlow; Rhesus monkeys seperated from mother after birth

             Placed into cage with 2 wire 'mothers'; one exposed + feeding bottle

                                                                           one wrapped in cloth but no food

             Monkeys spend more time with cloth mother.

Study criticises Learning theory.

Problems; Monkeys may behave differently to infants (cant generalise)

                 Ethical issues


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Research into Learning Theory

Schaffer and Emerson; studied 60 babies, every 4 weeks, first year and at 18 mths

                                     Mothers asked about protests in seperation situations

                                     Babies attached to people not involved in physical care

                                     39% mother not main attachment figure

                                     Feeding not the primary explanation for attachment

Does not support learning theory

Problems; Biased, mothers may lie about behaviour

                 Cant generalise

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Problems with Learning Theory

Explains simple behaviours BUT does not provide an adequate explanation for attachment.

Schaffer; believes babies dont 'live to eat' but 'eat to live', need love and attention.

Bowlby argued babies only periodically need food but constantly need protection and emotional security. Food is not the main reason for the formation of attachments.

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