Explanations of attachments

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Explanations of attatchments 


Learning theory :attatchment is a learned process (nurture). Its the view put forward by behaviourists to explain how all behaviour is acquired using the principles of conditioning:

Classical conditioning:

    • Attatchment develops through association of a stimulus with a response 
    • The food is an unconditioned stimulus which naturally produces asense of pleasure -unconditioned response 
    • The person who feeds infant becomes associated with the food - a conditioned stimulus + eventaully the feeder produces pleasure associated with food and so pleasure now becomes conditioned response 
    • Associated between individual and snese of pleasure is the attatchment bond andthe infant will feel this sense of pleasure even if they're not being fed

operant conditioning:

    • Attatchment develops through reinforcement
    • Dollard and Miller- suggest when a infant is hungry it feels uncomfortable-experience drive state -whichmotivates infants to find ways to lessen discomfort or hunger (crying)
    • being fed=comfortable again. Consequence is drive reduction which is rewardingso child feels food is a reward (primary reinforcer)
    • food supplier becomes associated with food becomes secondary reinforcer
    • fromthen on infant seeks to be with feeder because they're now a source of reward (infant =attached)

Evaluation of learning theory:

  • can provide adequate explainations of how atytachments form ( association ad reinforcement)
  • food may not be main reinforcer - could be attention and responsiveness or caregiver
  • behaviourist explainations are over simplified so lack validity.

key study: Harlow (1959) - investigating whether monkeys would prefer the activity of feeding to that of bodily comfort 

  • Method: Arranged for young rhesus monkeys to be taken from their mothers and placdd in cages with 2 surrogate mothers…


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