Psychology AQA AS Unit 1

Topics: Attachment theory, Mary Ainsworth, John Bowlby Pages: 19 (6221 words) Published: April 22, 2014
Attachment is an emotional bond between two people, it is a 2 way process that endures over time, serving the function of protecting the infant and leading to certain behaviours (seeking proximity, distress on separation, pleasure on reunion and general orientation of behaviour) There is a Primary attachment figure (PAF)

Learnt rather than inborn
Classical: Association
Proposes that food (UCS) naturally produces a feeling of pleasure (UCR). The feeder (NS) becomes associated with the food (UCS) when the infant is fed. The mother eventually produces the sense of pleasure associated with the food. Pleasure is now a Conditioned Response which causes attachment

Operant: Reinforcement (DOLLARD AND MILLER 1950)
When an infant if hungry, they feel uncomfortable and I drive is produced to reduce this discomfort. When the infant in fed, the drive is reduced and this produces a feeling of pleasure. The infant learns that the food is rewarding (Primary Reinforcer) and begins to recognise the person that provided the food (Secondary reinforcer). Attachment occurs because the infants seeks to be around the person that supplied the award.

Evaluating learning theory
Research by Harlow (1959) suggests attachment may not totally based upon the provision of food. Harlow removed baby rhesus monkeys from their mothers, and placed them into a cage. In the cage there were 2 wire mesh cylinders. One covered in towelling (contact comfort mother) and the other bare but with a bottle on the top (lactating mother) Harlow found that the babies spent most of their time clinging to the contact conform mother, especially when they were scared, and only visited the lactating mother occasionally to feed. This does not support leaning theory because it suggests that comfort may be more important than food in securing attachment.

However there are some problems with the research conducted by Harlow (1959). The use of the non human animal (rhesus monkeys) means that the data has been extrapolated, and so may not apply to further research done on humans. However there is research by Shafer and Emerson (1964) which supports Harlow’s findings. Shafer and Emerson observed 60 infants from working class homes in Glasgow in a naturalistic observation. They found no like between provision of food and attachment related behaviour, in fact they found that most of the infants seemed more attached to those who interacted with them the most.

Attachment is an innate and biological process that has evolved because of its survival value. Infants are born with an innate drive to become attached to a caregiver. Attachment must form in a sensitive period, ( the 2nd quarter of the first year of life) or not at all. Attachment is also an adaptive process, infants produce social releasers which elict care giving from their primary attachment figure. Bowlby suggested that this primary attachment figure is called monotropy, and from there there is a hierarchy of other important people in the infant’s life. Bowlby also suggested that our relationship with our primary attachment figure creates expectation for future life relationships, something known as the internal working model. From this he suggested a continuity hypothesis, that there is continuity between attachment and future life experiences.

Evaluating evolutionary theory
Bowlby suggests that the primary attachment figure the most important person in an infant’s life, followed by many other people in a hierarchy. However some disagree with the concept of monotropy. Rutter suggested the multiple attachment model, that infants had a collection of people they seemed equal. After a meta-analysis by Prior and Glaser (2006), evidence points towards the monotropy and hierarchy model originally suggested by Bowlby. Kagen also suggested an alternative explanation of the continuity...
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