Outline and evaluate the explanation of the Learning Theory The learning theory is model that suggests that attachment is learnt as a result of classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Food (Unconditioned stimulus) naturally produces a sense of pleasure (Unconditioned response) in the infant. As the mother continually provides the baby with food, she becomes the feeder and as the association between the two occurs. Classical conditioning occurs when food (conditioned stimulus) becomes associated with the mother which causes pleasure now becomes a conditioned response. The association between the mother and a sense of pleasure is the attachment bond.
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 second way learning can take place is through operant conditioning. The basic principle here is that if a behaviour is positively reinforced, for example, by praise it will increase the likelihood of such behaviour occurring again. Again using anorexia nervosa as an example when the individual initially loses weight they may gain attention from others around them. The final way in which the behavioural model proposes people may learn maladaptive behaviours is through modelling. This is called the social learning theory and involves individuals observing their role models behaving in certain ways and imitating their behaviour.
The learning theory describes two types of actual learning in relation to this known as classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning refers to involuntary responses and how they transfer to new situations. The procedure involves a pairing of stimulus and response, with a subject that comes to represent the given response. For example, if a baby were happy after being fed by its caregiver, it would soon learn to associate that happiness with its mother, and feel happy on seeing her alone rather than just when being fed. This demonstrates quite clearly how the learning theory suggests that an infant's responses would be based purely on physiological need; an emotional bond does form but the learning theory argues that only as a result of the need to be fed and survive.
For example, for a baby food is pleasure; therefore the person (mother) who is feeding them (providing the pleasure) becomes associated with food and therefore the mother becomes a conditioned stimulus forming an attachment. This contrasts to operant conditioning where that suggests that the attachment occurs when the baby learns when they are being rewarded for something. The attachment therefore when the food satisfies the child and it stops feeling uncomfortable. This suggests that the food then becomes the primary reinforcer and the caregiver who supplied the food (mother) becomes the secondary reinforcer. This is because the attachment is forming between them because the child seeks the mother for the reward.
Behavioural and Evolutionary theories of attachment in Psychology are two opposing ideas about the ways in which a child attaches to it's primary caregiver. In this essay I will demonstrate the differences between the two theories and use case studies to provide evidence for both the Behavioural and Evolutionary theories. The Evolutionary theory supports the Nature side of the argument, which basically suggests that attachment is something which is biologically pre-programmed into a child at birth. This means that an infant will emit something which is known as a 'social releaser' (e.g crying, smiling, laughing) because they know an adult will respond. However, the Behavioural theory is part of the Nurture debate, which suggests that attachment is a set of learned behaviours from the environment and is not something that a child is born with.
Learning is an “Experiential process resulting in the permanent change in behaviour that cannot be explained by temporary states, maturation or innate response tendencies” (Klein 1996 p2). Cognitivists believe that learning is believed learning organised internally and they study internal constructs involving thought and cognition. On the other hand behaviourists construct a psychology that is based purely on observable events, which are objective. They consider learning to be dependant on environment. Learning is through operant, classical or instrumental conditioning.
One social psychological explanation of aggression is the 'Social Learning Theory', which is the idea that behaviours (such as aggression) are learned through the observation of others. According to this approach, people we see as role models influence our actions because we imitate them and then acquire this new response. In Bandura's Bobo Doll Study, he examined this theory by showing participating children a role model behaving aggressively towards a Bobo doll, and then observing the children when they were introduced to the same room with the Bobo doll. He found that many of the children showed signs that they were imitating the aggression, suggesting they were only bahaving that way because of their exposure to the actor's aggression anf that they recalled the role models actions and re-enacted them. his findings implied that behaviours such as aggression are determined by a persons social environment.
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.
Social psychological theories propose that the causes of aggressive behaviour arise out of our interactions with others in our social world. Social learning theory (SLT) proposes that aggressive behaviour is learned either through direct experience or by vicarious experience. It claims that children learn to be aggressive by observing the behaviour of those around them particularly the behaviour of significant others, such as parents or elder siblings. By seeing others being rewarded or punished for their aggressive behaviours, the child experiences vicarious reinforcement. From these models, children therefore learn about the nature of aggressive behaviour, the situations where it is appropriate and its likely consequences.