Learning Theory Of Attachment

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  • Created by: Ambrosia
  • Created on: 02-01-13 12:54

Learning Theory Of Attachment

People who support the learning theory are known as behaviourists

It suggests that:

  • all behaviour is learnt rather than inborn
  • An infant must learn to form an attachment with its mother
  • attachment is learnt through either classical or operant conditioning

Classical Conditioning developed by ivan Pavlov, it is learning through association

It basically states that:

Unconditioned Stimulus (food) = Uncondtioned Response (pleasure) and therefore

Unconditioned Stimulus (food + Neutral Stimulus (mother) = Uncondtioned Response (pleasure)

and eventualy

Conditioned Stimulus (Mother) = Conditioned response (Pleasure)

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Learning Theory Of Attachment 2

Operant Conditioning

Learning through reward (reinforcement) and punishment

Dollard and Miller 1950

Hunger in an infant produces a drive to reduce the hunger. The food becomes the primary reinforcer as it evokes a feeling of pleasure. The person who provides the food is the secondary reinforcer. Attachment occurs becuse the child seeks the person who supplies the reward.

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Evaluating Learning Theory


  • it Can provide adequate explanations of how attachment is formed
  • we do learn through association


  • it uses food as the basis for all attachment
  • The findings of Harlow
  • Schaffer and emerson found babies most attached to the person that was most responsive to their social releasers
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