Theories of Attachment - Psychlology Teaching Resources

Report
Theories of Attachment
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Learning theory (Dollard & Miller)
Evolutionary theory (Bowlby)
www.psychlotron.org.uk
Explanations of the underlying
mechanisms of attachment formation (how
& why)
Two major approaches:
Learning Theory
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Classical conditioning (association)
Operant conditioning (consequences)
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Dollard & Miller (1949)
Attachment is a set of learned behaviours
(i.e. results from experience of the
environment, not innate processes)
Learning Theory
Classical conditioning
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Infant learns to associate feeding/comfort with
primary carer/mother
Mother acquires comforting properties by
association
Operant conditioning
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Infant learns that crying, smiling brings
positive response from adults (reinforcement)
Adult learns that responding to cries etc.
brings relief from noise (negative
reinforcement)
www.psychlotron.org.uk
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Learning Theory
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The child will form attachments on the basis
of primary care provision (feeding etc.)
Attachment behaviour should increase
steadily from birth
The strongest attachments will be with those
who provide the most primary care
www.psychlotron.org.uk
Main predictions:
Evolutionary Theory
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Encoded in the human genes
Evolves and persists because of its
adaptiveness (i.e. it is evolutionarily useful)
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Bowlby (1953)
Attachment is biologically pre-programmed
into children at birth
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Evolutionary Theory
Infants emit social releasers, to which
adults are biologically attuned
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Physical appearance
Crying, smiling etc.
These stimulate caregiving from adults
www.psychlotron.org.uk
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Evolutionary Theory
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They select one special attachment figure
(monotropy), who is used as a safe base for
exploring the world
The primary attachment is the template for
future social relationships
www.psychlotron.org.uk
Infants are programmed to attach to
whomever responds to their releasing
stimuli
Evolutionary Theory
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Attachments will form with those who respond
to child’s signals
Attachment will correlate with other aspects of
(biological) development
There will be a special attachment figure that
is more important than others
Disruption of attachments will have
developmental consequences
www.psychlotron.org.uk
Main hypotheses:

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