Once the infant is fed it feels pleasure (rewarding), the food is the primary reinforcer as it reduces the discomfort (becomes rewarding). The caregiver who supplies the food becomes a secondary reinforce and a source of rewards. Therefore, attachment occurs because the child seeks the person who can supply the reward (the primary reinforcer). The learning theory provides one explanation of attachment and suggests that attachment will be between an infant and the parents who feed it. The
The learning theory, which is also called the behavioural theory, suggests that we form an attachment with the one who feeds us; this isn’t necessarily the mother. We acquire this attachment using two types of conditioning: classical conditioning and operant conditioning. With classical conditioning, it is said the stimulus – being food – produces a response of pleasure from the child. The child will then associate food with pleasure and ultimately, the food giver becomes a source of pleasure within itself, regardless of whether the food is supplied or not., therefore the child is able to associate pleasure with not only the stimulus, but the food/care giver him/herself. Operant conditioning suggests that being fed satisfies an infant’s hunger, ultimately making them feel comfortable again.
He suggests that attachment is innate. This is because his experiment on the orphaned monkeys shown that no behaviour could have been learnt. The monkeys did not learn that the mother will offer comfort because it was orphaned. Therefore “behaviour must be innate.” Some may argue that the learning theory is too simplistic. Other people are involved in the baby’s life and it is possible for them to form attachments to their other family members/friends.
Many questions have been raised about whether children need more than ‘cupboard love’ to exist. Do we really need comfort and love to survive? Harlow and Ainsworth’s research work emphasised the importance of attachment with their primary caregiver however their methods were very different. Harlow (1958) and Ainsworth (1950) provided valuable insights into sensitive responsiveness by children and their main caregiver. By comparing the psychologists’ experiments we get a greater insight into children’s requirements not just for necessities like nourishment but their innate need to be loved.
They believed that behaviour is learned through our environment through operant or classical conditioning and that behaviour is just a response to a stimulus. Operant conditioning is a learning method to change behaviour through reinforcement to produce the desired response. Classical conditioning requires a stimulus to trigger a response by pairing with an unconditional stimulus. Skinner and Harlow’s aims were to look into the understanding of the different influences on human behaviour. Skinner was interested in the behaviourist way of observing and measuring behaviour.
Outline and evaluate one psychological explanation of media influences on pro-social behaviour One psychological explanation of media influences on pro-social behaviour is parental mediation. Singer suggested that parents can enhance children’s understanding by watching pro-social programmes with their children and discussing the moral content and reinforcing the pro-social message. By adults explaining the message to their children it enables them to understand much easier and they can take it on board. Morals in pro-social programmes tend to be harder to understand than anti-social behaviour. Age is an important factor for understanding pro-social behaviour.
Classical conditioning occurs when a stimulus becomes associated with a response while operant conditioning involves learning behaviour due to its consequences via the use of reinforcement. Attachments are seen as occurring through classical conditioning, where babies learn to associate care-givers with food, and unconditioned or primary care-giver due to the pleasure food gives. Care-givers are conditioned or secondary reinforce. The food is the unconditioned stimulus which led to pleasure which is the unconditioned response. When the child is being fed, over time they associate the person providing the food with the food.
Outline and evaluate one or more explanations of attachment (12 marks) One explanation for attachment is the learning theory, the learning theory suggests that attachment develops through classical and operant conditioning, which is a nurture theory. Firstly according to classical conditioning food, which is the unconditional stimulus, produces pleasure, which is the unconditional response. Because it is the mother who feeds the child, the child then simply associates food and the mother together. The mother becomes the conditioned stimulus and happiness becomes the conditioned response, because of this the attachment is formed between the mother and child. Classical conditioning is seen through Pavlov’s dogs (1902), because in Pavlov’s investigation he used the bell as a neutral stimulus, so whenever he gave food to the dogs he also rang bell, so after a number of repeats of this procedure he tried the bell on its own, as expected the bell now being rang caused increased salvation for the dog, showing that the dogs have learned that the bell means they are getting fed, now the bell is the conditioned stimulus.
Table of contents Introduction 3 Cultural factors 3 ← South African Context 4 Family Context 4 Childs Individual Characteristics 6 Conclusion 6 Reference List 8 Introduction According to Einsberg & Fabes (1998) Prosocial behaviour - voluntary behaviour intended to benefit another – is of obvious importance to the quality of social interactions between individuals and among groups. This type of behaviour can be modeled or learned a children spend time with their parents and caregivers. It may also be an intrinsic value within us, values we are born with. Children have prosocial behaviour for number of reasons. It may be because they genuinely care or because they are receiving rewards for such behaviour.
/ The caregiver did not necessarily need to be the infant’s mother, the infants were able to form attachment with anybody who showed them an adequate level of comfort and responded to the infant sensitively. / A further study that contradicts the learning theory is Harlow’s Rhesus monkey studies. The study found that despite the cloth mother having no feeding apparatus, the infant monkeys formed an attachment with the cloth mother. / Harlow concluded that despite the infant monkey having physiological cravings, such as hunger, they still preferred the cloth mother, due to the comfort that they were given from the cloth mother. Question 2 Outline and evaluate learning theory as an explanation of attachment.