Outline and evaluate the learning theory of attachment essay

Key concepts of attachment theory

Attachment has now been learned. He even found that some of the monkeys would cling to the comfort of the towelling mother whilst leaning over to feed from the wire mother. He observed and recorded information about dogs and their salivation rates. Outline and evaluate Ainsworth's strange situation 12 Marks outline The strange situation was devised in order to measure and test the nature of attachment between an infant and their caregiver. The main assumption is that behaviour is learnt through association for example, we learn to respond to new events and people in the same way as we already respond to other events. In other words, attachment is a result of nurture rather than nature. This supports the idea of the learning theory being an explanation of attachment however, this may not be valid for humans.

Feeding the baby makes it more comfortable, and so crying is learned through negative reinforcement. This is learning through reinforcement of certain behaviour. Attachments were more likely to be formed to those individuals who are sensitive and rewarding to the baby and who play with the infant.

bowlby theory of attachment essay

Outline and evaluate the learning theory of attachment 12 marks outline The learning theory of attachment focuses of two concepts; operant and classical conditioning. The person providing the food usually the mother becomes associated with this pleasure and therefore becomes a conditioned stimulus.

Another study that supports the learning theory is Dollard and Miller which proposed the idea that attachment is a learned behaviour that is acquired through both classical and operant conditioning. This creates an opportunity for the carer to become associated with the removal of unpleasant feeling of hunger.

Evaluating learning theory of attachment Learning theory provides a very plausible and scientifically reliable explanation for attachment formation.

learning theory psychology

Operant conditioning When an infant is hungry it is in an uncomfortable state. Research evidence, such as that of Harlow's monkey study, opposes the idea of learning theory as an explanation of attachment. He used infant monkeys to see if attachments are primarily formed through food as explained by the learning theory.

Evaluation of dollard and miller 1950

When a baby gets food it's discomfort will become happiness and the baby will associate this feeling with food and therefore food will become the primary reinforcer. Research evidence, such as that of Harlow's monkey study, opposes the idea of learning theory as an explanation of attachment. When the attachment has been learned, the infant gains pleasure when the primary caregiver is present. The removal of that unpleasant feeling of hunger is a form of negative reinforcement so that the caregiver becomes a source of reinforcement reward themselves. Secondary drive hypothesis explains how primary drives which are essential for survival, such as eating when hungry, become associated with secondary drives such as emotional closeness. Behaviourists suggest that attachment is learned by classical conditioning learning by association. Whereas operant conditioning is based on the ideas of reward and punishment. You need to mention operant conditioning and classical conditioning, but you do not need to describe them - students often make the simple mistake of describing Pavlov and Skinner and forgetting to describe attachment. Harlow found that baby monkeys spent more time with a soft towelling monkey which did not provide food , in comparison to a wire monkey which did provided food. Some of the behaviours included the parent leaving the room, and stranger being presented and the parent returning. Evaluating learning theory of attachment Learning theory provides a very plausible and scientifically reliable explanation for attachment formation. Weaknesses: 1 POINT: There is strong evidence from Psychological studies that suggests that attachments that form between and infant and their primary caregiver are not based on feeding. This suggests that feeding is not the main explanation of attachment which goes against the learning theory.

Harlow's monkey study involved giving a baby monkey the choice of either food or comfort food was portrayed by a wire 'monkey' with a feeding bottle attached to it and comfort was portrayed by a wire 'monkey' covered in cloth.

Evidence from Harlow contradicts the learning theory of attachment.

Bowlby attachment theory

A hungry baby will cry because it is distressed. Although classic conditioning has now been explored with young infants. Attachment has now been learned. Any type of essay. Classical conditioning is learnt through association and occurs when a response is produced naturally by a certain stimulus. Plan your answer in the space they give you before you actually write it - the content is not the only important aspect, structure will gain you marks too. Learning theorists argue that the principles of learning are the same in humans and animals; however, many psychologists argue that not all human behaviours can be explained in terms of conditioning, especially attachment. In this case the surrogate mothers were wire framed models that provided food and therefore satisfied the monkeys' primary needs, or ones that were comfortable and padded but provided no food. Evaluate The biggest flaw of Ainsworth's strange situation is the fact that it may not measure the attachment type of the infant but rather the quality of the relationship between the infant and caregiver. This is learning through reinforcement of certain behaviour. Outline and evaluate Ainsworth's strange situation 12 Marks outline The strange situation was devised in order to measure and test the nature of attachment between an infant and their caregiver. Another study that supports the learning theory is Dollard and Miller which proposed the idea that attachment is a learned behaviour that is acquired through both classical and operant conditioning. This means that food may not be the main reinforcer of attachments as argued by learning theory but rather it could be the responsiveness from the caregiver that might also be rewarding. Learning theory has its strengths and weaknesses, but on its own it does not explain attachment adequately.
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