Attachment cut and stick essay

Task: Piece me together and improve me if you can. Do I need more A01 or A02 you decide?
The learning theory refers to behaviourist attempts to explain behaviour through
classical conditioning. This means babies begin to associate their food or milk (that
acts as an unconditioned or primary reinforcer) with their primary caregiver that acts
as a secondary reinforcer (and is stereotypically known as their mother).
This theory claims that the more the baby is fed, the stronger the attachment
formation grows. This causes the baby to feel secure in their primary caregiver’s
presence, as they come to be rewarding on their own right (even without the food).
Due to the fact that the primary caregiver is actually only rewarding as they
satisfy the babies physiological needs, the learning theory may also be referred to as
‘the cupboard love’ theory.
Though the learning theory attempts to explain attachment to some extent, it
is hugely criticised. Harlow conducted an experiment with monkey’s to test the
learning theory. He left monkeys alone with two surrogate mothers. One mother had
a ‘caged’ body with a feeder attached to it whereas the second mother was made
from a comfortable cloth, no feeder involved. Harlow found that the monkeys
preferred comfort over food, thus proving the learning theory to be wrong, as the
learning theory suggests that babies form attachment bonds through feeding. He
concluded that monkeys as well as babies have an ‘innate’ or unlearned, biological
desire to be loved.
Schaffer and Emerson’s experiment can also support Harlow’s conclusion. They
conducted an experiment with 60 infants and their primary caregiver in Glasgow.
From their experiment, they concluded that there were 4 stages of attachment.
The stages being:
Schaffer and Emerson also noticed that babies needed attention and sought
proximity through smiling, laughing, crying and holding fingers rather than wanting
food. They suggested that babies ‘eat to live’ not ‘live to eat’.
We can use Ainsworth’s strange situation findings of securely attached
children (that was found in majority of the children involved in the experiment) to
also give support, as evidently the children only showed signs of distress in their
caregiver’s absence, not when no food was present to them.
Another explanation of attachment is called the evolutionary theory
suggested by Bowlby. This theory suggests that babies have an ‘innate’ or biological
desire to be attached and loved from the start of their life. They seek attention
through social releases, such as crying, laughing, smiling and gurgling to enable a
monotropy attachment to form, usually with their primary caregiver. Bowlby suggests
that this attachment must occur within a critical period of the first 5 years. If any
separation is experienced, maternal deprivation may take place. This means that
the attachment bond that was once formed may be lost. This is said to the potential
development of the child becoming an ‘affectionless psychopath’.
Bowlby’s study of the 44 juvenile thieves supports this explanation as it showed
that 16 of the thieves were affectionless psychopath’s, from which 86% of them
experienced some form of separation within the critical period, thus proving the
maternal deprivation to be true and enable it to occur in reality.
However, this research as well as this theory has been criticised. A criticism is
that it is Bowlby himself who decided whether the person was an affectionless
psychopath or not meaning there could have been some experimenter bias. Also
the groups of thieves and non-thieves were not equally separated in gender which
could be a potential extraneous variable.
As for the theory, it has been criticised for being a sexist judgement aimed at
encouraging women to go back to being home makers and thus allowing men to
gain jobs again after the end of the Second World War
Also, the theory suggests that a monotrophic attachment is good enough for
a baby’s development whereas it could be argued that a baby needs to form
multiple attachments to grow stable.
I feel this essay lacks sufficient Ao2 – the answer is not balanced, it is more
descriptive and lacks evaluation. How would you improve it?