Learning Theory Explanation of Attachment

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Outline and Evaluate the Learning Theory Explanation of Attachment Attachment is a special kind of affectional bond or relationship between two people. The Learning Theory argues that attachment is learnt rather than innate. There are two main types of behavioural approaches which are classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is a form of associative learning where we are pre-conditioned to unconditionally respond in certain ways to stimuli. Classical conditioning in other words causes a response from a stimulus where there is a neutral stimulus. Classical conditioning was first noticed by Pavlov, when investigating the digestive system of dogs. He noticed they would salivate when their bowl came into the room, so he introduced a stimulant which was a bell to use and indicator for them to let them know they would be getting their food. Soon the dogs began to associate the bell with their food, so they would salivate when they heard the bell. Pavlov then realised he could reverse these effects if he sounded the bell and did not give the dogs their food. However after a while the dogs stopped salivating when they heard the bell. The dogs associated the bell with food so they salivated. Normally a dog would not salivate to a bowl or a bell, but the dogs associated these stimuli with food so they gave that response. Some could argue that Pavlov’s findings cannot be transferred to classical conditioning in the wider world as this experiment was only on dogs, and we don’t know whether there was some other factor which could have been altering Pavlov’s results, for example the breed of dog could have been affecting the amount of salivation and not the stimulus. As a result, this study was carried out on animals so we cannot be sure if the same applies to humans and there is also low ecological validity as the dogs were not in their natural

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