Learning Theory.

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Classical conditioning.

  • Food creates a sense of pleasure, the person providing the food (usually mother) is associated to the food and therefore becomes the source of pleasure. 
  • The association between an indivicual and a sense of pleasure of the attachment bond.
    • UCR: unconditioned stimulus = food.
    • UCR: unconditioned respones = pleasure.
    • CS: conditioned stimulus = mum.
    • CR: conditioned response = pleasure.
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Operant conditioning.

  • Learning occurs when we are rewarded for doing somethiing. We continue to do things that are reinforced.
  • Behaviours which produce a feeling of pleasure are 'stamped in' and therefore repeated.
  • Those which produce unpleasant consequences are generally not continued.

Dollard & Miller.

  • We have a primary drive,  a motivational state arising from basic psychological needs eg. hunger.
  • They suggest a hungry infant feels uncomfortable and this creates a drive to this discomfort.
  • When the infant is fed, the drive is reduced and this creates a feeling of pleasure. Food becomes a primary reinforcer.
  • The person who feeds the infant then becomes linked to the satisfaction of food and therefore becomes the secondary reinforcer. 
  • The infant is therefore motivated to seek the mother's presence to recieve this reward or feeling of pleasure.
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  • -ve: Shaffer and Emerson found that the first attachment formed by 39% of babies was not to the person who fed them but with the person who was most sensitive and rewarding to them eg. played with them.
  • +ve & -ve: This explanation is at least partially correct; we do form attachments through conditioning. However, food may not be the main factor. It may be that responsiveness from a caregiver is an important reward that creates the bond.
  • -ve: This explanation ignores the considerable evidence pointing towards the importance of evolutionary aspects of attachment. (i.e. we attach for survival)
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