Suggests that attachments are learnt though classical and operant
According to classical conditioning the infant, who had a drive to feed,
associated the PCG with feelings of pleasure which come from food.
The PCG becomes the conditioned stimulus and the pleasure
become the conditioned response.
In this way the infant learns to form an attachment with their
PCG because of the positive feeling associated with them.
According to operant conditioning the PCG and infant form an attachment as they
reward each other.
Feeding is rewarding (positive reinforcment) to the infant as it
reduces their drive for food so they learn to stay close to their PCG
in anticipation of food (reward)
To the infant, food is the primary reinforcer
As the PCG is associated (classical conditioning) with pleasure from food, the become the secondary reinforcer
Supporting research: Schaffer and
60% of 60 working class Glaswegian infants formed an attachment with a parent who
was their main feeder.
This suggests that attachments are formed based on an association between the
pleasure an infant gets from food and the PCG who feeds them
Unfairly minimises complex attachment behaviour by ignoring other factors
Ignores how the ability to form attachments is innate
Harlow's research showed that monkeys will instinctively form an attachment
with care-givers which closely resemble them and provide "contact comfort"
over the pleasure associated with food (as learning theory states).
As humans and monkeys share a similar biological make up,
these findings can be used to explain attachments in humans.
Suggests our behaviour is limited by factors outside of our control,
limiting our free will and responsibility
Assumes complex attachment behaviour is the result of learning
In this way it cannot explain why some parents
choose not to form an attachment with their
e.g. surrogate mothers who give the child to a
couple after it is born and they have had chance
to bond with it