Describe and evaluate two explanations of attachment

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Task: Describe and evaluate two explanations of attachment

Attachment is a reciprocal bond that ties two people together and can be seen trhough behaviour- it is reciprocal because each partner is attached to the other.  Attachments are mainly present between  infant and caregiver,  and for most it is a vital aspect of their lives, and to an extent, what helps them survive (infants particularly). Attachment is characterized by specidfic behaviour in children: Maccoby (1980) identified four of these different types of behaviour that show characteristics of attachment. These include; seeking proximity, distressed on seperation, pleasure when reunited (such  as hugging, which  suggests a strong emotional tie), and general orientation towards caregiver.

In attachment, there are two main explanations, namely; the learning theory, and Bowlby's revolutionary theroy, which  are two examples of the nature-nurture debate. The Behavioural theory of attachment, is a behaviourist explanation that is centralised around nurture, and one which takes the view that attachment is a learned process (explaining how all behaviour is acquired through conditioning principles). This involves classical and operant conditioning- Classical  conditioning states that we learn through association. For example, food (UCS) is pleasurable (UCR), therefore, the person providing the food (CS) becomes the source of pleasure (CR), overtime, the caregiver becomes associated with food, arousing pleasure (even if she is not supplying any). This as a result, provides the basis of an attachment bond. Operant conditioning on the other hand, is an explanation of learning that sees the consequences of behaviour. Dollard and Miller (1950) claimed that an infant will initially form an attachment to whoever feeds it, and that a drive state is required in order for this to occur. He said that when hungry, the human infant enters a negative drive state which makes them cry.  This usually has an instant reaction from the caregiver, which is to feed it. When food is given, it removes the hunger (causing a drive reduction), consequently, encouraging the baby to repeat this behaviour (negative reinforcement). Food is therefore the primary reinforcer and caregiver the second, and since the caregiver is the source of reinforcement, an attachemtn bodn is made between caregiver and infant.

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Maurer and Maurer (1989) however, claimed that ''attachments are welded in the heat of interaction'', clearly suggesting that the formation of an attachment does not simply require two individuals to be close together, nor does it form due to the provision of food as proposed by Dollard and Miller. The creation of an attachment is rather reliant upon the interaction between the two. A study which strenghthens this view, is the research conducted by Harlow and Harlow (1962). This is the study of the formation of love in infant monkeys, which demonstrates the importance of care-giving and companionship ...

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