Explanations of Attchment:Learning Theory

  • Created by: April15
  • Created on: 12-01-20 13:22

Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning:

The main assumption behind the learning theory explanation of attachment was that children learn to become attached to their caregiver because they give them food. Learning can be due to associations being made between different stimuli (classical conditioning) or behaviour can be altered by patterns of reinforcement (operant conditioning).

1) Classical Conditioning - The care-giver who feeds the infant (often the mother) becomes associated with pleasure through satisfying the main drive of hunger. This eventually generalises into a feeling of security (an attachment) whenever the caregiver is present. This kind of association is called classical conditioning.

  • Before conditioning -  Unconditioned Stimulus (Food) --> Unconditioned Response (Happy Baby)
  • During Conditioning - Neutral Stimulus (Mother) + Unconditioned Stimulus (Food) --> Uncondirioned Response (Happy Baby)
  • After Conditioning - Conditioned Stimulus (Mother) --> Conditioned Response (Happy Baby)

2) Operant Conditioning - The main principle of operant conditioning is that behaviour which is reinforced will be repeated. Babies who cry are likely to be fed. Food…


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