Learning theory takes the view that attachment is a learned process, whereas Bowlby argued that attachment is an inherited behaviour (Nature).
-The view put forward by behaviourists to explain how all behaviour is acquired using the principles of conditioning
- Classical conditioning:
- Classical conditioning is a type of conditioning and learning process
Dogs salivate when they feed. Salivation is an unconditioned response (UR) to an unconditioned stimulus (food-the US).
The stimulus (US) and response (UR) are innately linked. If a bell is rung every time food appears, the animal comes to associate the sound of the bell and food, so that the bell alone will produce the (UR). The bell was a neutral stimulus (NS) but is now a conditioned stimulus (CS) and the salivation is now a conditioned response (CR). Thus the animal has learned a new stimulus-response link.
- An infant if born with reflex responses. The stimulus of food creates a response of pleasure- (an unconditioned stimulus and response).
- The person providing the food (mother) becomes associated with this pleasure and therefore becomes a conditioned stimulus.
- The food giver therefore becomes a source of pleasure, whether or not food is supplied
- This is the basis of an attachment bond.
- Operant conditioning:
- Behaviour reinforced by rewards and punishments
An animal is placed in a cage where food will be delivered if it presses a lever. At first the animal presses the leaver accidentely and is rewarded by receiving food. This reward increases the probability that the behaviour (lever pressing) will be repeated. The food or reward is said to be reinforcing. If the lever press results in an electric shock, this will decrease the probability of the response being repeated. The shock acts as a punishment.
- Dollard and Miller (1950) proposed a further adaptation of the learning theory account of attachment, based in part of Operant conditioning but with the presence of mental state (not included in behaviourist accounts).
- They suggest when hungry, the human infant experiences a drive-state.
- This drive-state motivates the the baby to find some way to lessen the discomfort of being hungry
- The infant howls/crys
- Being fed satisfies the child/infant/baby, this results to a …