Ecological Systems Theory

Ecological Systems Theory

Ecological Systems Theory

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Ecological Systems Theory, also called Development in Context or Human Ecology theory, specifies four types of nested environmental systems, with bi-directional influences within and between the systems.


Urie Bronfenbrenner is generally regarded as one of the world's leading scholars in the field of developmental psychology. His Ecological Systems Theory holds that development reflects the influence of several environmental systems, and it identifies five environmental systems:

  • Micro system: The setting in which the individual lives. These contexts include the person's family, peers, school, and neighborhood. It is in the micro system that the most direct interactions with social agents take place; with parents, peers, and teachers, for example. The individual is not a passive recipient of experiences in these settings, but someone who helps to construct the settings.
  • Mesosystem: Refers to relations between microsystems or connections between contexts. Examples are the relation of family experiences to school experiences, school experiences to church experiences, and family experiences to peer experiences. For example, children whose parents have rejected them may have difficulty developing positive relations with teachers.
  • Exosystem: Involves links between a social setting in which the individual does not have an active role and the individual's immediate context. For example, a husband's or child's experience at home may be influenced by a mother's......
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