6 junio, 2024

The Bronfenbrenner Ecological Model

He Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model It consists of an environmental focus on the development of the individual through the different environments in which they develop. LThe different environments in which people participate directly influence their change and their cognitive, moral and relational development.

From this point of view, high importance is attached to environmental factors. In other words, people are born with a series of genetic attributes that are developed based on the individual’s contact with the environment.

This model is one of the most used today in psychology; It can be applied in all fields and related to other sciences. It is based on the fact that human development occurs in the interaction between genetic variables and the environment, determining a series of basic systems that make up personal relationships.


Characteristics of the ecological model

The Bronfenbrenner Ecological Model was designed and developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner. This Russian psychologist, born in 1917 in Moscow, initiated the theory of environmental systems that influence people and their development as a human being.

This theory appeared as a response to traditional research during the last century, which was based in highly clinical laboratory contexts that did not allow the study of situations and behaviors developed in real life.

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model posited a more holistic, systemic, and naturalistic view of psychological development. Understanding this as a complex process that responds to the influence of a wide variety of factors closely linked to the environment.

Bronfenbrenner’s basic postulate is that natural environments constitute the main source of influence on human behavior, and therefore, on people’s psychological development.

Currently, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model is one of the most accepted theories in the field of modern evolutionary psychology.

The model determines a series of environmental structures at different levels in which the human being develops. These structures come into contact with people from the moment they are born and accompany them throughout their lives.

Ecological model systems

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model is characterized by the specification of different detectable systems in people’s lives. Each of these has certain characteristics.

Likewise, the model is based on the idea that the systems referring to the environment of individuals play a dimensional role. That is, each of the specified systems contains another within it.

The four systems that make up the ecological model are: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem.

– Microsystem

The microsystem determines the level closest to the person. This includes the behaviors, roles and relationships characteristic of the daily contexts in which the individual develops.

It forms the context in which the person is able to interact face to face with others. Specific environments that would be included in the microsystem would be the home, the workplace, relationships with friends, etc.

The main characteristics of this first system postulated in the ecological model are:

relatively stable

The spaces and environments where people spend most of their day to day tend to be stable. Home, workplace, school, friendships, etc. They are elements that are not usually subject to great variety.

However, at specific times these can be modified and directly affect the individual. The main elements that can vary a person’s microsystem are:

Change of residence and of the people with whom you live, formation of a new family, change of school or job, suffering from an illness that requires hospitalization and change of friends.

The elements of the microsystem feed back

The elements that make up a person’s microsystem encompass a multitude of variables and factors that interact and feed each other.

In this way, a child’s microsystem at school can directly affect his family microsystem and vice versa. All people are exposed to the fact that the relationships and dynamics established in a close environment may affect others.

Microsystems directly affect the person

The relationships established in microsystems are characterized by being the most influential in the development of the individual.

Depending on what the person does in their day to day, the direct stimuli they receive from the contexts and from the relationship with the people they interact with mark their cognitive, moral, emotional, ethical and behavioral development.

– Mesosystem

The mesosystem comprises the relationships of two or more environments in which the individual actively participates.

Specifically, it refers to the feedback between previously described microsystems. For example, the relationship between family and work, or social life and school.

In this way, the mesosystem is understood as a system of microsystems that forms or expands when the person enters a new environment.

The main elements that determine the mesosystem are:

Information flow

The mesosystem implies a broad flow of information between microsystems. That is, the individual develops the role of communicator between people who are interrelated by himself.

For example, a child establishes a certain type of communication with the teacher (school microsystem) and with their parents (family microsystem).

The fluctuation of the communications developed in each of the associated microsystems will determine the relationship between these and the development of the individual in each of them.

Empowerment of behaviors

The mesosystem presents one of the elements that has a greater capacity to influence the personal development of individuals.

This element deals with empowerment of behaviors. That is, aspects learned and reinforced in two different microsystems.

For example, if a child is taught to eat with their mouths closed at home and at school, this learning will have twice the potential, since it is reinforced by two different microsystems.

Establishment of partner supporthe

Finally, the mesosystem establishes the degree of social support that a person possesses. Depending on the interrelation and complementation of the microsystems, an individual will or will not see her support needs satisfied.

A subject can have very good family support but have no friends. Or he may have many friends but present deficiencies in his family environment.

Microsystems in isolation do not have the capacity to establish the social support of an individual since they specify the functioning in a certain environment. However, the mesosystem allows analyzing the subject’s personal relationships from an integrating point of view.

– Exosystem

The exosystem includes environments in which the person does not participate directly, but in which events occur that affect the functioning of the individual’s environment.

Some examples of these environments would be the couple’s workplace, the children’s school, the brother’s group of friends, etc.

The person does not participate directly in these contexts (although in some they may do so and become a microsystem). Likewise, the changes or alterations produced in these environments usually have an impact in some way on the individual.

The factors that can be included within the exosystem are:

Third party opinion

The relationships established in the exosystem do not directly affect the person, but they do indirectly. In this sense, the opinions of others about oneself can modify the development of the individual.

For example, the opinion of the teachers of a person’s child, the comments of the couple’s friends about oneself, the image offered to acquaintances or people in the neighborhood, etc.

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These elements refer to acquaintances or relatives from the past that the person has not come to know.

The family and social history (both of oneself and of those close to them) can contextualize one’s development and establish some operating premises.

Satisfaction with the relationships of relatives

Finally, the relational quality of the individuals closest to a person determines their state of satisfaction.

Likewise, the personal satisfaction of the subjects with whom the day-to-day is shared modulates, in part, the type of relationship established. For this reason, the relationship between third parties indirectly affects the development of the individual.

– Macrosystem

Finally, the macrosystem encompasses all the factors linked to culture and the historical-cultural moment in which the person develops.

According to Bronfenbrenner, in a society the structure and substance of the micro, meso and exosystem tend to be similar. As if these were built from the same master model.

This fact is explained by the enormous influence produced by the macrosystem on previous systems. Social class, ethnic and religious group, social customs and socio-cultural norms determine, to a large extent, the individual development of each person and the quality of their relationships.

The main aspects that define this last system of the ecological model are:

Government policies

Each region has a series of laws and policies that dictate what behaviors of individuals are allowed and which are penalized.

In this way, a large part of personal development is limited by the norms and laws imposed from the governmental levels of the region in which the individual operates.

Socio-cultural norms

In each context, the functioning of people is implicitly determined by a series of socio-cultural norms.

These norms allow the socialization between individuals and the coexistence between them. Likewise, they aim to set operating standards that allow mutual understanding.

Socio-cultural norms vary in each geographic region and especially in each cultural region. The greater the cultural differences between regions, the greater differences can be observed in the individual development of its members.

social ratings

Beyond the norms, there is a wide variety of operating rules that are dictated by the social valuation of the members of the environment.

For example, sitting on the ground in the street is not prohibited conduct. However, it is a socially extravagant element depending on what contexts.

This myriad of social rules dictate a large part of people’s behavior and significantly dictate their development.

Criticism of the ecological model

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model provides a detailed analysis of the environmental factors of human development. At present it constitutes one of the theories…

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