Outline and evaluate learning theory as an explanation of attachment

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Learning theory suggests attachment develops through classical and operant conditioning. According to classical conditioning food, an unconditional stimulus, produces pleasure, an unconditional response. The mother is associated with the pleasure and becomes a conditioned stimulus. According to operant conditioning food satisfies the infant's hunger and makes it feel comfortable again. Food is therefore a primary reinforcer. The mother is associated with food and becomes a secondary reinforcer. The infant becomes attached to the mother because she is a source of reward.

There is a lot of evidence that animals learn through classical and operant conditioning. However, the evidence for learning theory is mainly based on experiments with non-human participants. Animals may be similar to human beings in the way they learn but we have far more…


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