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  • Created on: 03-04-15 14:43

KEY TERMS-attachment- learning theory

ATTACHMENT- an emotional bond between two people which leads to certian behaviours such as clinging and proximity-seeking. It is a two way process that remains over time. it serves the function of protecting an infant.

PRIMARY ATTACHMENT FIGURE- the person who has formed the closet bond with the child (usually the mother allthough it could be the father, grandmother, adoptive mother etc).

LEARNING THEORY- ie. classical and operant conditioning. These explain behaviour in terms of learning rather than inate tendencies (the biological approach) or higher order thinking (the cognitive approach).

OPERANT CONDITIONING- learning through rewards and punishments (reinforcement). If you do something and it results in an unpleasant consequence (punishment), it becomes less likely that you will repeat that behaviour. 

CLASSICAL CONDITIONING- learning through association. For example, an association is made by a baby between the mother and food; the mother gives the baby food and this gives the baby pleasure, thus, whenever the mother is arround the baby will feel pleasure.

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attachment-learning theory

  • Classical conditioning- learning through association. Pavlov> recorded how much the dogs salivated before being fed. >Dogs started salivating as soon as they heard the door open because they had learned to associate the sound of the door with the arival of food
  • BEFORE CONDITIONING- unconditioned stimulus {UCS} (food) > produces an unconditioned reflex {UCR} (making the dogs salivate). DURING CONDITIONING- the arrival of food and the door opening occurs a number of times simultaniously. AFTER CONDITIONING- conditioned stimulus {CS} (door opening) >produces a conditioned response {CR} (making the dogs salivate)
  • This can be used to explain the attatchment between a baby and its primary carer. Eg. UCS=food, which produces UCR=pleasure >UCS=food, and the presence of the neutral stimulus {NS}= person giving the food, occur together a number of times.>The NS gradually becomes a CS. >CS= person giving the food, produces a CR= pleasure.
  • Operant conditioning- Dollard and Miller >Attachment is based on reinforcement. >Hungry infant feels unconfortble, creating a drive to reduce discomfort >When infant is fed, the drive is reduced and this produces a feeling of pleasure >Food becomes a primary reinforcer >The person who supplies the food is associated with avoiding discomfort >secondary reinforcer
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attachment-learning theory-strengths and weaknesse

  • Learning theory is correct because we do learn through association and reinforcement. However, food may not be the main reinforcer; it may be that attention and responsiveness from a caregiver are important rewards that create bonds.
  • Infants are more likely to become attached to the person who offers contact comfort rather than the person who feeds them.Shaffer and Emerson conducted a longitudinal controlled observation of 60 babies in their own homes for a period of about a year. They found that in fact, infants were not most attached to the person who fed them. They were most attached to the person was most responsive and who interacted with them most.
    • This is supported by Harlow's research into rhesus monkeys in which he placed the infant monkeys in a cage with 2 wire mothers > one provided food, but was entirely wire and provided no comfort > the other was wrapped in soft cloth but offered no food. > the monkeys spent most of the time with the cloth-coverd mother and would cling to it, especially when frightened.
    • This is a weakness because the Learning Theory suggests that the young monkey should have formed an attachment to the wire mother who offered a reduction in the hunger drive.
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KEY TERMS-attachment-Bowlby's evolutionary theory

Continuity hypothesis- the view that there is a link between an infants early attachment relationship and later behaviour.

Internal working mode- a cluster of concepts about relationships> short term> gives the child insight into the caregiver's behaviour> long term> acts as a template for future relationships because it gives them expectations about how people behave.

Monotrophyone relationship with a particular person is of sigificant importance.

Primary attachment figurethe person who has formed the closest bond with a child.

Secondary attachment figure- acts as a sort of emotional safety net and contributes to social development.

Sensitive period- a biologically determined period of time during which a child is paticularly sensitive to a specific form of stimulation which results in the development of a specific response or characteristic.

Social releasers- a social behaviour or characteristic which forces a caregiving reaction.

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attachment-Bowlby's evolutionary theory

  • Babies have an innate drive to become attached and are also born with certian characteristics, called social releasers, which evoke caregiving.
  • Attachment develops during a sensitive period, around 3-6 months. Later, it becomes increasingly difficult to form attachments.
  • Infants have one special emotional bond called a monotrophy with their primary attachment figure
  • Attachment is important for protection, and so acts as a secure base from which the child can return to when scared etc.
  • The mother-infant relationship creates expectations about relationships leading to an internal working model
  • The continuity hpothesis is that individuals who are securely attached in infancy continue to be socially and emotional stable.
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attachment-learning theory-strengths and weakness

Lorenz- (goslings study) supports the view that imprinting is innate because the goslings imprinted on the first thing they saw so would not have had the time to 'learn' this action.

Hodges and Tizzard- found that children who had formed no attachments had difficulty in later life forming relationships with their peers. (supports the sensitive period.)

It is not clear whether only one primary attachment is necessary for healthy emotional development, some research suggests that it may be better to have several.

The temperament hypothesis- kagan> suggests that attachment could be explained in terms of innate temperamental types. Infants who have 'easy' temperament are more likely to become securely attached and those who are 'difficult' tend to be insecurely attached.

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KEY TERMS-attachment- types of attachment

Securely attached- willing to explore, confortable with social interaction and intimacy, seek close boditly contact with the mother when anxious and are easily soothed.

Insecure-avoident- infants are willing to explore and unresponsive to mothers return; they generally avoid social interaction and intimacy of others.

Insecure-resistant- infants who are less interested in exploring annd show distress on mothers return; generally they both seek and reject intimacy and social interaction.

Insecure-disorganised- infants who lack consistent patterns of attachment behaviour.

Disinhibited- infants who display affection to strangers and may be attention-seeking.

Separation anxiety- distress shown by an infant when separated from thier primary attachment figure.

Strange situation-method developed by Mary Ainsworth to assess strength of attachment in terms of stranger+separation anxiety>conducted in a controlled enviroment>involves 8 episoded>infant's behaviour is observed as mother leaves, returns, and when a stranger is present.

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attachment-types of attachment

Mary Ainsworthstrange situation

AIM: to assess strength of attachment in terms of stranger and separation anxiety.

PROCEDURE: controlled lab experiment> recording infants in 8 different stages: 1) parent and infant play 2) parent sits while infant plays 3) stranger enters and talks to parent 4) parent leaves, infant plays, stranger offers comfort if needed; 5) parent returns, greets infant, offers comfort if needed; stranger leaves 6) parent leaves, infant alone 7) stranger enters and offers comfort 8) parent returns, greets infant, offers comfort.

In the strange situation, data is collected by a group of observers who record what the infant is doing every 15 seconds.

FINDINGS: 62%=securely attached, 15%=insecure avoident, 9%=insecure resistant or 15%=insecure-disorganised

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attachment-types of attachment-strengths and weakn

Reliability- Ainsworth et al. found almost perfect agreement when rating exploritory behaviour- they found .94 agreement between raters.

Validity- perhaps ainsworth's study did not measure what it intended to measure because it was in a controlled setting which makes it lack in ecological validity as it does not reflect the situations of every day life.

Ethical issues- it put the infants under allot of stress.

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