Learning theory summary
Learning theory states that we attach to a Primary caregiver through learning, It is broken down into two theories, classical conditioning and operant condition, classical conditioning states, that we learn to attach through association, whereas operant condition states that we attach through reward and punishment. For example; If an infant uses positive social releasers,(smiling laughing) and the PCG reacts sensitively, classical conditioning will say the infant learns to associate the positive response with the positive social releasers, whereas operant condition will tell us that the reward for the positive SR will teach the baby to repeat the action.
Learning theory states that through cupboard love infants will attach to the caregiver who feeds them, but Shaffer and Emerson (1964) found in their research that less than half of the infants int heir sample had a primary attachment to the caregiver that fed changed and bathed them. Harlow concluded in his famous Rhesus Monkey study that Baby monkeys have an innate need for comfort, which overpowers the need for food, going completely against The main feature of learning theories explanation for attachment, ‘cupboard love’ through food. Another main criticism for this study is that it is reductionist, Meaning the theory reduces human behaviour to simplistic ideas of stimulus and response. IT attempts to explain the complex ideas of attachment in a simple manner, and these concepts may be too simple to explain attachment.