Attachment Revision- Learning Theory
Learning Theory - Classical Conditioning; learning through association.
Before conditioning Unconditioned stimulus produces unconditioned response.
During conditioning Food and the presence of a person who feeds the infant occur together a number of times. The neutral stimulus gradually becomes a conditioned stimulus.
After conditioning Conditioned stimulus produces a conditioned response and the person who feeds the infant produces a pleasure
Operant conditioning; learning through reinforcements. (Dollard and Miller) 1. Hungry infant feels uncomfortable, creating a drive to reduce discomfort. 2. When the infant is fed, the drive is reduced and this releases a feeling of pleasure therefore making the food a primary reinforcer. 3.The person who supplies the food is associated with avoiding discomfort and becomes the secondary reinforcer, a source of reward. 4.Attachment occurs because the infant seeks the person who can supply the reward.
STRENTHS- 1.Learning theory is correct; we do learn by association not because food is a reinforcer but because attention and responsiveness reinforce infants behaviours.
Attachment-Operant conditioning- continued
WEAKNESSES- Feeding is not the key criteria. Infants are more likely to become attached to the person that offers comfort rather than being given food. EXAMPLE Harlow carried out an animal experiment with monkeys in which he took an infant away from its mother and isolated it. He placed the baby monkey into a room with two fake monkeys made out of wire; one with food attached and the other with a soft lining. He found that the monkey spent most of its time with the wire monkey that was covered in soft lining especially when they were frightened (proximity seeking behaviour). Schaffer and Emerson conducted a controlled observation of 60 babies in their own homes for a year. They found that infants were not most attached to the person who fed them.
Bowlby (1969) Babies have a drive inside to become attached and also are born with certain characteristics called social releases. Attachment develops during a sensitive period (around 3-6 months) and after this point it becomes very difficult to form attachments. Infants have one special bond (monotrophy) with their primary attachment figure. Infants have many secondary attachments that are important for healthy psychological and social development. The mother-infant relationship creates expectations about relationships, leading to an internal working model. The continuity hypothesis is that individuals who are securely attached in infancy continue to be socially and emotionally competent. STRENTHS- Makes sense that behaviours would have evolved to ensure safety of offspring and attachment is, therefore, an innate predisposition. Research support for key concepts such as sensitivity and continuity, for example Ainsworth's research. WEAKNESSES- Monotropy isn't clear whether only one primary attachment is necessary for healthy emotional development; it may be better to have several.
Attachment-Secure and Insecure
Ainsworth (1967) did a naturalistic observation of 26 infants and their mothers in Uganda. The mothers who were more sensitive to their infants' needs had more securely attached infants (they cried less and explored more). These results can't be explained by the learning theory but can be explained within Bowlby's theory, related to caregiver sensitivity. Ainsworth (1971) did a naturalistic observation of 26 infants and their mothers in Baltimore and showed that caregiver sensitivity increased attachment and decreased crying; contrary to predictions of learning theory. Ainsworth (1978) did a controlled lab observation called the strange situation studying 106 middle-class US infants. This experiment revealed distinct behaviour patterns- 66% of infants displayed secure attachment, 22% were insecure-avoidant and 12% were insecure-resistant.