Early Social Development Notes

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  • Created by: Lottie
  • Created on: 28-04-13 17:27

Explanations of attatchment, including learning theory and Bowlby's theory.

An attatchment is an emotional bond between two people. It's a two-way process that endures over time. It leads to certain behaviours such as clinging and proximity-seeking and serves the function of protecting the infant.

Learning theory suggests that all behaviour is learnt rather than innate. Some of our behaviour is learnt through the process of classical conditioning. This is learning by association. Food is an unconditioned stimulus which naturally produces a sense of unconditioned pleasure. The person who feeds the infant becomes associated with this. The person becomes the conditioned stimulus and the pleasure their presence produces is the conditioned response. This association between an individual and a sense of pleasure is the attatchment bond.

A strength of learning theory as an explanation of attatchment is that it can be applied for many different aspects of human beghaviour.An example of an explanation using classical conditioning would be someone who develops a fear of flying because s/he associates being in a plane with an unpleasant experience such as turbulence. As a general law of behaviour, it must have some relevence to the attachment between caregiver and child.

A limitation of learning theory as an explanation of attachment is that there is evidence against it. Harlow’s experiment with baby monkeys showed that the monkey spent


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