Learning theory

  • Created by: JSetters
  • Created on: 02-05-18 16:59

Learning theory

AO1: All behaviours are learned rather than inherited. Classical conditioning: unconditioned stimulus (food) paired with neutral stimulus (mother) to make conditioned stimulus which produces condtioned response. Learned through association. Operant conditioning: Learning through reinforcement. Drive reduction theory, reduction of discomfort made by hunger is rewarding so food becomes primary reinforcer, associated with secondary reinforcer of mother.

AO3: Research is largely based on animal research i.e. Pavlov with dogs, Skinner with rats and pigeons. Questions the external validity of the findings and whether they can be applied to humans. Therefore, they have to be generalised with caution.

Suggests food is the key element in the formation of attachment. Harlow's study showed that food wasn't the key element, it was who provided the most comfort. This is also supported by Schaffer and Emerson. Feeding may have nothing to do with attachment

Learning theory has some value, even though it doesn't provide a complete explanation of attachment. Infants do learn through association and reinforcement but the main reinforcer may not be food. May be the attention and responsiveness from a caregiver which are important rewards that assist in the formation of attachment.

Alternative theory (Bowlby)- explains why attachments form, LT only explains how, Bowlby's has advantages whereas LT has no disadvantages of attachment. Bowlby says attachment protects from harm, enhancing survival. Bowlby's also explains facts better i.e. explains S&E's findings that infants aren't always strongly attached to the feeder.

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