Behaviourist Theory Of Attachment

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Attachment Theory Introduction By definition, attachment is ‘a social & emotional bond between infant & carer that spans both time & space’ (Martin, Carlson & Buskist, 2010). The formation of these emotional bonds is essential for a healthy social life in later years. There are two main theories that are believed to be important in forming attachments. The learning/behaviourist theory of attachment(e.g. Dollard and Miller, 1950) suggests that attachment is a series of learned behaviours and that the core of this attachment is the provision of food. After forming an initial attachment with whoever feeds them, the infant will learn to associate the feeder with comfort and through the process of classical conditioning, begin to feel comfort when…show more content…
After working with many emotionally damaged children in the 1930s, Bowlby began to think about the effect that the child’s relationship with their primary caregiver has on their social, emotional and cognitive development. While working with James Robertson(1952) Bowlby observed that when taken from their mothers children grew very upset, regardless of whether they were fed by another caregiver or not. This research opposed the dominant behavioural theory of attachment(Dollard and Miller, 1950) which did not value the child’s relationship with their mother. The behavioural theory of attachment stated that the child becomes attached to someone because they have fed them. Bowlby(1958) suggested that attachment can come from the caregiver providing safety and security for the infant. According to Bowlby, babies actively seek close proximity with their caregiver when under stress or threatened(Prior and Glaser,…show more content…
Slater Ainsworth. A child, their caregiver and an unfamiliar yet friendly adult engage in a series of eight semi-structured episodes in a playroom as the researchers observe them through a one-way mirror. Throughout the experiment there is a sequence of separations and reunions between the child and each adult. While the experiment is happening, the infant grows more upset and actively seeks contact with their caregiver. The level of distress the child reaches is an indication to the quality of attachment that the child has. The child’s actions such as crying, playing and paying attention to the caregiver and stranger are recorded by the researchers. Through the strange-situation test, Ainsworth was able to distinguish between attachments that seemed secure as well as those that seemed insecure, or anxious(Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters and Wall

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