Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, PhD., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years of experience in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

On This Page:

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory posits that an individual’s development is influenced by a series of interconnected environmental systems, ranging from the immediate surroundings (e.g., family) to broad societal structures (e.g., culture).

These systems include the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem, each representing different levels of environmental influences on an individual’s growth and behavior.

Key Takeaways

  • Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory views child development as a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment, from immediate family and school settings to broad cultural values, laws, and customs.
  • To study a child’s development, we must look at the child and their immediate environment and the interaction of the larger environment.
  • Bronfenbrenner divided the person’s environment into five different systems: the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macrosystem, and the chronosystem.
  • The microsystem is the most influential level of the ecological systems theory. This is the most immediate environmental setting containing the developing child, such as family and school.
  • Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory has implications for educational practice.

A diagram illustrating Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory. concentric circles outlining the different system from chronosystem to the individual in the middle, and labels of what encompasses each system.

The Five Ecological Systems

Bronfenbrenner (1977) suggested that the child’s environment is a nested arrangement of structures, each contained within the next. He organized them in order of how much of an impact they have on a child.

He named these structures the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and the chronosystem.

Because the five systems are interrelated, the influence of one system on a child’s development depends on its relationship with the others.

1. The Microsystem

The microsystem is the first level of Bronfenbrenner’s theory and is the things that have direct contact with the child in their immediate environment.

It includes the child’s most immediate relationships and environments. For example, a child’s parents, siblings, classmates, teachers, and neighbors would be part of their microsystem.

Relationships in a microsystem are bi-directional, meaning other people can influence the child in their environment and change other people’s beliefs and actions. The interactions the child has with these people and environments directly impact development.

For instance, supportive parents who read to their child and provide educational activities may positively influence cognitive and language skills. Or children with friends who bully them at school might develop self-esteem issues. The child is not just a passive recipient but an active contributor in these bidirectional interactions.

2. The Mesosystem

The mesosystem is where a person’s individual microsystems do not function independently but are interconnected and assert influence upon one another.

The mesosystem involves interactions between different microsystems in the child’s life. For example, open communication between a child’s parents and teachers provides consistency across both environments.

However, conflict between these microsystems, like parents and teachers blaming each other for a child’s poor grades, creates tension that negatively impacts the child.

The mesosystem can also involve interactions between peers and family. If a child’s friends use drugs, this may introduce substance use into the family microsystem. Or if siblings do not get along, this can spill over to peer relationships.

3. The Exosystem

The exosystem is a component of the ecological systems theory developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner in the 1970s.

It incorporates other formal and informal social structures. While not directly interacting with the child, the exosystem still influences the microsystems. 

For instance, a parent’s stressful job and work schedule affects their availability, resources, and mood at home with their child. Local school board decisions about funding and programs impact the quality of education the child receives.

Even broader influences like government policies, mass media, and community resources shape the child’s microsystems.

For example, cuts to arts funding at school could limit a child’s exposure to music and art enrichment. Or a library bond could improve educational resources in the child’s community. The child does not directly interact with these structures, but they shape their microsystems.

4. The Macrosystem

The macrosystem focuses on how cultural elements affect a child’s development, consisting of cultural ideologies, attitudes, and social conditions that children are immersed in.

The macrosystem differs from the previous ecosystems as it does not refer to the specific environments of one developing child but the already established society and culture in which the child is developing.

Beliefs about gender roles, individualism, family structures, and social issues establish norms and values that permeate a child’s microsystems. For example, boys raised in patriarchal cultures might be socialized to assume domineering masculine roles.

Socioeconomic status also exerts macro-level influence – children from affluent families will likely have more educational advantages versus children raised in poverty.

Even within a common macrosystem, interpretations of norms differ – not all families from the same culture hold the same values or norms.

5. The Chronosystem

The fifth and final level of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory is known as the chronosystem.

The chronosystem relates to shifts and transitions over the child’s lifetime. These environmental changes can be predicted, like starting school, or unpredicted, like parental divorce or changing schools when parents relocate for work, which may cause stress.

Historical events also fall within the chronosystem, like how growing up during a recession may limit family resources or growing up during war versus peacetime also fall in this system.

As children get older and enter new environments, both physical and cognitive changes interact with shifting social expectations. For example, the challenges of puberty combined with transition to middle school impact self-esteem and academic performance.

Aging itself interacts with shifting social expectations over the lifespan within the chronosystem.

How children respond to expected and unexpected life transitions depends on the support of their ecological systems.

The Bioecological Model

It is important to note that Bronfenbrenner (1994) later revised his theory and instead named it the ‘Bioecological model’.

Bronfenbrenner became more concerned with the proximal development processes, meaning the enduring and persistent forms of interaction in the immediate environment.

His focus shifted from environmental influences to developmental processes individuals experience over time.

‘…development takes place through the process of progressively more complex reciprocal interactions between an active, evolving biopsychological human organism and the persons, objects, and symbols in its immediate external environment.’ (Bronfenbrenner, 1995).

Bronfenbrenner also suggested that to understand the effect of these proximal processes on development, we have to focus on the person, context, and developmental outcome, as these processes vary and affect people differently (Bronfenbrenner & Evans, 2000).

While his original ecological systems theory emphasized the role of environmental systems, his later bioecological model focused more closely on micro-level interactions.

The bioecological shift highlighted reciprocal processes between the actively evolving individual and their immediate settings. This represented an evolution in Bronfenbrenner’s thinking toward a more dynamic developmental process view.

However, the bioecological model still acknowledged the broader environmental systems from his original theory as an important contextual influence on proximal processes.

The bioecological focus on evolving person-environment interactions built upon the foundation of his ecological systems theory while bringing developmental processes to the forefront.

Classroom Application

The Ecological Systems Theory has been used to link psychological and educational theory to early educational curriculums and practice. The developing child is at the center of the theory, and all that occurs within and between the five ecological systems are done to benefit the child in the classroom.

  • According to the theory, teachers and parents should maintain good communication with each other and work together to benefit the child and strengthen the development of the ecological systems in educational practice.
  • Teachers should also be understanding of the situations their student’s families may be experiencing, including social and economic factors that are part of the various systems.
  • According to the theory, if parents and teachers have a good relationship, this should positively shape the child’s development.
  • Likewise, the child must be active in their learning, both academically and socially. They must collaborate with their peers and participate in meaningful learning experiences to enable positive development (Evans, 2012).

bronfenbrenner classroom applications

There are lots of studies that have investigated the effects of the school environment on students. Below are some examples:

Lippard, LA Paro, Rouse, and Crosby (2017) conducted a study to test Bronfenbrenner’s theory. They investigated the teacher-child relationships through teacher reports and classroom observations.

They found that these relationships were significantly related to children’s academic achievement and classroom behavior, suggesting that these relationships are important for children’s development and supports the Ecological Systems Theory.

Wilson et al. (2002) found that creating a positive school environment through a school ethos valuing diversity has a positive effect on students’ relationships within the school. Incorporating this kind of school ethos influences those within the developing child’s ecological systems.

Langford et al. (2014) found that whole-school approaches to the health curriculum can positively improve educational achievement and student well-being. Thus, the development of the students is being affected by the microsystems.

Critical Evaluation

Bronfenbrenner’s model quickly became very appealing and accepted as a useful framework for psychologists, sociologists, and teachers studying child development.

The Ecological Systems Theory provides a holistic approach that is inclusive of all the systems children and their families are involved in, accurately reflecting the dynamic nature of actual family relationships (Hayes & O’Toole, 2017).

Paat (2013) considers how Bronfenbrenner’s theory is useful when it comes to the development of immigrant children. They suggest that immigrant children’s experiences in the various ecological systems are likely to be shaped by their cultural differences. Understanding these children’s ecology can aid in strengthening social work service delivery for these children.


A limitation of the Ecological Systems Theory is that there is limited research examining the mesosystems, mainly the interactions between neighborhoods and the family of the child (Leventhal & Brooks-Gunn, 2000). Therefore, the extent to which these systems can shape child development is unclear.

Another limitation of Bronfenbrenner’s theory is that it is difficult to empirically test the theory. The studies investigating the ecological systems may establish an effect, but they cannot establish whether the systems directly cause such effects.

Furthermore, this theory can lead to assumptions that those who do not have strong and positive ecological systems lack in development. Whilst this may be true in some cases, many people can still develop into well-rounded individuals without positive influences from their ecological systems.

For instance, it is not true to say that all people who grow up in poverty-stricken areas of the world will develop negatively. Similarly, if a child’s teachers and parents do not get along, some children may not experience any negative effects if it does not concern them.

As a result, people need to avoid making broad assumptions about individuals using this theory.

How Relevant is Bronfenbrenner’s Theory in the 21st Century?

The world has greatly changed since this theory was introduced, so it’s important to consider whether Bronfenbrenner’s theory is still relevant today. 

Kelly and Coughlan (2019) used constructivist grounded theory analysis to develop a theoretical framework for youth mental health recovery and found that there were many links to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory in their own more recent theory.

Their theory suggested that the components of mental health recovery are embedded in the ‘ecological context of influential relationships,’ which fits in with Bronfenbrenner’s theory that the ecological systems of the young person, such as peers, family, and school, all help mental health development.

We should also consider whether Bronfenbrenner’s theory fits in with advanced technological advancements in the 21st century. It could be that the ecological systems are still valid but may expand over time to include new modern developments.

The exosystem of a child, for instance, could be expanded to consider influences from social media, video gaming, and other modern-day interactions within the ecological system.

Neo-ecological theory

Navarro & Tudge (2022) proposed the neo-ecological theory, an adaptation of the bioecological theory. Below are their main ideas for updating Bronfenbrenner’s theory to the technological age:

  • Virtual microsystems should be added as a new type of microsystem to account for online interactions and activities. Virtual microsystems have unique features compared to physical microsystems, like availability, publicness, and asychnronicity.
  • The macrosystem (cultural beliefs, values) is an important influence, as digital technology has enabled youth to participate more in creating youth culture and norms.
  • Proximal processes, the engines of development, can now happen through complex interactions with both people and objects/symbols online. So, proximal processes in virtual microsystems need to be considered.

Urie Bronfenbrenner was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1917 and experienced turmoil in his home country as a child before immigrating to the United States at age 6.

Witnessing the difficulties faced by children during the unrest and rapid social change in Russia shaped his ideas about how environmental factors can influence child development.

Bronfenbrenner went on to earn a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Michigan in 1942.

At the time, most child psychology research involved lab experiments with children briefly interacting with strangers.

Bronfenbrenner criticized this approach as lacking ecological validity compared to real-world settings where children live and grow. For example, he cited Mary Ainsworth’s 1970 “Strange Situation” study , which observed infants with caregivers in a laboratory.

Bronfenbrenner argued that these unilateral lab studies failed to account for reciprocal influence between variables or the impact of broader environmental forces.

His work challenged the prevailing views by proposing that multiple aspects of a child’s life interact to influence development.

In the 1970s, drawing on foundations from theories by Vygotsky, Bandura, and others acknowledging environmental impact, Bronfenbrenner articulated his groundbreaking Ecological Systems Theory.

This framework mapped children’s development across layered environmental systems ranging from immediate settings like family to broad cultural values and historical context.

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological perspective represented a major shift in developmental psychology by emphasizing the role of environmental systems and broader social structures in human development.

The theory sparked enduring influence across many fields, including psychology, education, and social policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main contribution of bronfenbrenner’s theory.

The Ecological Systems Theory has contributed to our understanding that multiple levels influence an individual’s development rather than just individual traits or characteristics.

Bronfenbrenner contributed to the understanding that parent-child relationships do not occur in a vacuum but are embedded in larger structures.

Ultimately, this theory has contributed to a more holistic understanding of human development, and has influenced fields such as psychology, sociology, and education.

What could happen if a child’s microsystem breaks down?

If a child experiences conflict or neglect within their family, or bullying or rejection by their peers, their microsystem may break down. This can lead to a range of negative outcomes, such as decreased academic achievement, social isolation, and mental health issues.

Additionally, if the microsystem is not providing the necessary support and resources for the child’s development, it can hinder their ability to thrive and reach their full potential.

How can the Ecological System’s Theory explain peer pressure?

The ecological systems theory explains peer pressure as a result of the microsystem (immediate environment) and mesosystem (connections between environments) levels.

Peers provide a sense of belonging and validation in the microsystem, and when they engage in certain behaviors or hold certain beliefs, they may exert pressure on the child to conform. The mesosystem can also influence peer pressure, as conflicting messages and expectations from different environments can create pressure to conform.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1974). Developmental research, public policy, and the ecology of childhood . Child development, 45 (1), 1-5.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977). Toward an experimental ecology of human development . American psychologist, 32 (7), 513.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1995). Developmental ecology through space and time: A future perspective .

Bronfenbrenner, U., & Evans, G. W. (2000). Developmental science in the 21st century: Emerging questions, theoretical models, research designs and empirical findings . Social development, 9 (1), 115-125.

Bronfenbrenner, U., & Ceci, S. J. (1994). Nature-nurture reconceptualised: A bio-ecological model . Psychological Review, 10 (4), 568–586.

Hayes, N., O’Toole, L., & Halpenny, A. M. (2017). Introducing Bronfenbrenner: A guide for practitioners and students in early years education . Taylor & Francis.

Kelly, M., & Coughlan, B. (2019). A theory of youth mental health recovery from a parental perspective . Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 24 (2), 161-169.

Langford, R., Bonell, C. P., Jones, H. E., Pouliou, T., Murphy, S. M., Waters, E., Komro, A. A., Gibbs, L. F., Magnus, D. & Campbell, R. (2014). The WHO Health Promoting School framework for improving the health and well‐being of students and their academic achievement . Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (4) .

Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: the effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes . Psychological Bulletin, 126 (2), 309.

Lippard, C. N., La Paro, K. M., Rouse, H. L., & Crosby, D. A. (2018, February). A closer look at teacher–child relationships and classroom emotional context in preschool . In Child & Youth Care Forum 47 (1), 1-21.

Navarro, J. L., & Tudge, J. R. (2022). Technologizing Bronfenbrenner: neo-ecological theory.  Current Psychology , 1-17.

Paat, Y. F. (2013). Working with immigrant children and their families: An application of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory . Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 23 (8), 954-966.

Rhodes, S. (2013).  Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory  [PDF]. Retrieved from

Wilson, P., Atkinson, M., Hornby, G., Thompson, M., Cooper, M., Hooper, C. M., & Southall, A. (2002). Young minds in our schools-a guide for teachers and others working in schools . Year: YoungMinds (Jan 2004).

Further Information

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1974). Developmental research, public policy, and the ecology of childhood. Child Development, 45.

Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems

Related Articles

Vygotsky vs. Piaget: A Paradigm Shift

Child Psychology

Vygotsky vs. Piaget: A Paradigm Shift

Interactional Synchrony

Interactional Synchrony

Internal Working Models of Attachment

Internal Working Models of Attachment

Soft Determinism In Psychology

Soft Determinism In Psychology

Branches of Psychology

Branches of Psychology

Learning Theory of Attachment

Learning Theory of Attachment

Ecological Systems Theory

Ecological Systems Theory (EST), also known as human ecology, is an ecological/ system framework developed in 1979 by Urie Bronfenbrenner (Harkonen, 2007). Harkonen notes that this theory was influenced by Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory and Lewin’s behaviorism theory. Bronfenbrenner’s research focused on the impact of social interaction on child development. Bronfenbrenner believed that a person’s development was influenced by everything in the surrounding environment and social interactions within it. EST emphasizes that children are shaped by their interaction with others and the context. The theory has four complex layers called systems, commonly used in research. At first, ecological theory was most used in psychological research; however, several studies have used it in other fields such as law, business, management, teaching and learning, and education.

Previous Studies

EST has been used in many different fields, however, commonly, it is used in health and psychology, especially in child development (e.g., Heather, 2016; Esolage, 2014; Matinello, 2020). For instance, Walker et al. (2019) used an EST framework to examine risk factors for overweight and obese children with disabilities. The study focused on how layers of an ecological system or environment can negatively affect children with special needs in terms of weight and obesity. They found that microsystem such as school, family home, and extracurricular activities can impact overall health through physical activities and food selectivity. Furthermore, the second layer, mesosystem (e.g., family dynamic and parental employment), also can lead to an increase in children’s weight because of a lack of money to buy nutritious food. In addition, children may be socially isolated and excluded in ways that cause stress, and their parents might use food to reinforce or comfort them. The third layer the study adopted was the macrosystem. For example, some cultures discriminate against children with disabilities so that they face more difficulty gaining access to health services.

In the field of language teaching, Mohammadabadi et al. (2019) researched factors influencing language teaching cognition. They used an ecological framework to explore the factors influencing language teachers at different levels. They adopted the four systems from Bronfenbrenner’s theory for studying the issue. This study found that the ecological systems affect language teaching.  For example, the microsystem included a direct influence on teachers’ immediate surroundings, such as facilities, emotional mood, teachers’ job satisfaction, and linguistic proficiency. The mesosystem defined interconnections between teachers’ collaboration and their prior learning experience. The exosystem included the teaching program and curriculum and teachers’ evaluation criteria, while the macrosystem addressed the government’s rules, culture, and religious beliefs. In other words, researchers use EST to guide the design of their studies and to interpret the results.

Model of EST

Ecological Systems Theory of Development Model

Concepts, Constructs, and Propositions

The four systems that Brofenbrenner proposed are constructed by roles, norm and rules (see Figure 1). The first system is the microsystem. The microsystem as the innermost system is defined as the most proximal setting in which a person is situated or where children directly interact face to face with others. This system includes the home and child-care (e.g., parents, teacher, and peers). The second is the mesosystem. The mesosystem is an interaction among two or more microsystems where children actively participate in a new setting; for instance, the relationship between the family and school teachers. The third is the exosystem. This system does not directly influence children, but it can affect the microsystem. The effect is indirect. However, it still may positively or negatively affect children’s development through the parent’s workplace, the neighborhood, and financial difficulties. The outermost system is the macrosystem. Like the exosystem, the macrosystem does not influence children directly; however, it can impact all the systems such as economic, social, and political systems. The influence of the macrosystem is reflected in how other systems, such as family, schools, and the neighborhood, function (Kitchen et al., 2019). These four systems construct the EST which considers their influences on child or human development.

Bronfenbrenner (cited in Harkonen, 2007) noted that those environments (contexts) could influence children’s development constructively or destructively. As the proposition, the system influences children or human development in many aspects, such as how they act and interact, their physical maturity, personal characteristics, health and growth, behavior, leadership skills, and others. At the end of the ecological system improvement phase, Bronfenbrenner also added time (the chronosystem) that focuses on socio-history or events associated with time (Schunk, 2016). In summary, the views of this ecological paradigm is that environment, social interaction, and time play essential roles in human development.

Using the Model

There are many possible ways to use the model as teachers and parents. For teaching purposes, teachers can use the model to create personalized learning experiences for students. The systems support teachers and school administrators to develop school environments that are suitable to students’ needs, characteristics, culture, and family background (Taylor & Gebre, 2016). Because the model focuses on the context (Schunk, 2016), teachers and school administration can use the model to increase students’ academic achievement and education attainment by involving parents and observing other contextual factors (e.g., students’ peers, extra-curricular activities, and neighbor) that may help or inhibit their learning.

Furthermore, the EST model can support parents to educate and guide their children. It can prompt parents to assist their children in choosing their friends and finding good neighborhoods and schools. Additionally, they can build close connections to teachers, so they know their children’ skills and abilities. By involving themselves in schools, parents can positively influence their children’s educational context (Hoover & Sandler, 1997).

For research purposes, researchers can test and modify or refine the EST proposition, or they can find additional ways to measure it. Researchers also can develop questionnaires from the components or concepts and construct of EST. Additionally, the four levels of EST can be used by researchers to frame qualitative, quantitative, and mixed research (Onwuegbuzie,, 2013).

At first, EST was used in children’s development studies to describe their development in their early stages influenced by the person, social, and political systems. Currently, EST is broadly applied in many fields. Schools or educational institutions can use EST to improve students’ achievement and well-being. Interaction between the family, parents, teachers, community, and political system will determine students’ development outcomes.

Esolage, D. L. (2014). Ecological theory: Preventing youth bullying, aggression, and victimization.  Theory into Practice. 53 , 257–264.

Harkonen, U. (2007, October 17). The Bronfenbenner ecological system theory of human development. Scientific Articles of V International Conference PERSON.COLOR.NATURE.MUSIC , Daugavpils University, Latvia, 1 – 17.

Heather, M.F. (2016). An ecological approach to understanding delinquency of youth in foster care . Deviant Behavior, 37 (2), 139 – 150.

Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., & Sandler, H. M. (1997). Why do parents become involved in their children’s education? Review of Educational Research , 67(1), 3–42.

Kitchen, J. A, (list all authors in reference list) (2019). Advancing the use of ecological system theory in college students research: The ecological system interview tool.  Journal of College Students Development, 60  (4), 381-400.

Martinello, E. (2020). Applying the ecological system theory to better understanding and prevent child sexual abuse.  Sexuality and Culture, 24 , 326-344

Mohammadabadi, A., Ketabi, S., & Nejadansari, D. (2019). Factor influencing language teaching cognition.  Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching. 9 (4), 657 – 680.

Onwuegbuzie, A.J., Collins, K.M.T., & Frels, R.K. (2013). Foreword. International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 7 (1), 2-8.

Schunk, D. H. (2016). Learning theory: An educational perspective .  Pearson.

Taylor, R. D., & Gebre, A. (2016). Teacher–student relationships and personalized learning: Implications of person and contextual variables. In M. Murphy, S. Redding, & J. Twyman (Eds.), Handbook on personalized learning for states, districts, and schools (pp. 205–220). Temple University, Center on Innovations in Learning.

Walker, M., Nixon, S., Haines. J., & McPherson, A.C. (2019). Examining risk factors for overweight and obesity in children with disabilities: A commentary on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system framework. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 22 (5), 359 – 364.

Creative Commons License

Share This Book

  • Increase Font Size

Explore Psychology

Ecological Theory: Bronfenbrenner’s Five Systems

Categories Development , Theories

Ecological theory suggests that human development is influenced by several interrelated environmental systems. Introduced by psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, ecological theory emphasizes the importance of understanding how various systems and environments interact with and influence people throughout life. 

Key Takeaways

  • Ecological theory examines how individuals are shaped by their interactions with various environments.
  • Bronfenbrenner’s model categorizes these environments into microsystems, mesosystems, exosystems, macrosystems, and chronosystems.
  • The theory highlights the importance of considering environmental context in understanding human development.
  • While offering valuable insights, ecological theory also poses challenges, such as complexity and limitations in generalization.

Table of Contents

What Is Ecological Theory?

Bronfenfrenner’s ecological theory suggests that the interaction between and individual and their environment influences the developmental process. Bronfenbrenner organized these environmental factors into different systems or layers–each one interacting with each other as well as the individual.

In order to understand how humans develop throughout life, it is important to examine the multiple connections and influences of such systems. These influences include the immediate environment, including family and peers, as well as the much broader society and culture in which the individual and these other systems exist.

The Five Systems in Ecological Theory

Ecological theory describes five layered systems or levels that influence human behavior and development. These levels are often portrayed as a series of concentric circles. At the center of the system is the individual. The first layer is the one that they have the most immediate contact with, with each circle expanding outward and encompassing all of the inner layers.

The five levels of ecological theory are the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem.

1. Microsystem

The microsystem refers to the immediate environments where individuals directly interact, such as family, school, peer groups, and religious institutions. These settings have a profound impact on a person’s development, as they provide the most immediate and intimate social experiences. 

For example, within the family microsystem, children learn essential skills, values, and behaviors through interactions with parents, siblings, and caregivers. Similarly, the school microsystem shapes cognitive development, social skills, and peer relationships. 

These microsystemic interactions are crucial as they lay the foundation for future relationships and societal engagement.

2. Mesosystem

The mesosystem encompasses the interconnections between various microsystems in an individual’s life. It focuses on how different settings interact and influence each other, ultimately impacting the individual’s development. 

For instance, the relationship between family and school is a significant aspect of the mesosystem. A child’s experiences at home can affect their performance and behavior at school, and conversely, school experiences can influence family dynamics. 

Understanding these interactions is essential for comprehending the holistic nature of human development and the interconnectedness of different environments.

3. Exosystem

The exosystem comprises external settings that indirectly impact an individual’s development, even though they do not directly participate in those settings. Examples include the parents’ workplace, community services, and mass media. 

These environments may influence the individual through the experiences of people close to them or through policies and societal norms. 

For instance, a parent’s job stability or workplace stress can affect family dynamics and, subsequently, a child’s well-being. Similarly, community resources and media portrayals can influence individuals indirectly and influence societal perceptions and values.

4. Macrosystem

The macrosystem encompasses the broader cultural, societal, and political contexts that influence development. It includes cultural norms, economic systems, ideologies, and government policies. These elements shape the values, beliefs, and opportunities available to individuals within a society. 

For example, cultural attitudes toward education, gender roles, and socioeconomic inequality significantly impact individuals’ life paths and opportunities. Understanding the macrosystem is crucial for recognizing the broader structural forces that shape human development and behavior.

5. Chronosystem

The chronosystem incorporates the dimension of time into Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory, emphasizing how individual and environmental factors change over time and influence development. This system recognizes the importance of historical events, life transitions, and personal experiences at different developmental stages. 

For example, changes in family structure, societal norms, and technological advancements can profoundly affect individuals’ development across the lifespan. By considering these temporal factors, ecological theory provides a dynamic framework for understanding human development throughout the entire lifespan.

History of Ecological Systems Theory

Urie Bronfenbrenner was a renowned developmental psychologist. He introduced the ecological systems theory to provide a comprehensive framework for understanding human development. 

Born in 1917 in Russia, Bronfenbrenner immigrated to the United States with his family during the Russian Revolution. His early experiences as an immigrant deeply influenced his perspective on human development, leading him to explore the complex interactions between individuals and their environments.

Bronfenbrenner’s interest in understanding how various environmental factors shape development stemmed from his observations as a psychologist working with children and families. He sought to move beyond traditional theories that focused solely on individual traits or familial influences and instead emphasized the importance of considering the broader ecological contexts in which individuals live.

Bronfenbrenner developed his ecological systems theory throughout the latter half of the 20th century, drawing from interdisciplinary research in psychology, sociology, anthropology, and biology. He published his seminal work, “The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design,” in 1979, where he presented his theory in detail.

Central to Bronfenbrenner’s theory is the notion that human development occurs within a series of nested environmental systems, each exerting varying degrees of influence on the individual.

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory has had a profound impact on the field of developmental psychology . It emphasizes the importance of considering the dynamic interplay between individuals and their environments. 

His work has influenced research, policy-making, and intervention strategies aimed at promoting healthy development across the lifespan. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s legacy continues to shape our understanding of human development and the complex ecological contexts in which it occurs.

Examples of Environmental Influences in Ecological Theory

To understand ecological theory, it can be helpful to take a closer look at some of the influences that people experience at each level:


  • Family : Parenting styles , sibling relationships, household routines.
  • School : Teacher-student interactions, peer relationships, classroom environment.
  • Peer groups : Friendship dynamics, social support networks, peer pressure.
  • Religious institutions : Belief systems, community engagement, moral teachings .
  • Family-school : Parent-teacher communication, involvement in school activities.
  • School-peer groups : Peer influence on academic performance, social dynamics within school settings.
  • Family-religious institutions : Religious practices within the family, involvement in religious community activities.
  • Peer groups-community services : Peer support for accessing community resources, involvement in community service projects.
  • Parent’s workplace : Work hours, job stability, workplace culture.
  • Community services : Access to healthcare, availability of recreational facilities, quality of public transportation.
  • Mass media : Portrayal of societal norms, the influence of media on attitudes and behaviors.
  • Extended family : Support from extended family members, family gatherings, and traditions.


  • Cultural norms : Attitudes toward education, gender roles, and family structure.
  • Socioeconomic systems : Economic inequality, access to resources and opportunities.
  • Political ideologies : Government healthcare, education, and social welfare policies.
  • Historical context : Societal changes over time, impact of historical events on cultural values.


  • Family changes : Divorce, remarriage, birth of siblings.
  • Socioeconomic transitions : Job loss, career advancement, changes in income level.
  • Technological advancements : Impact of technology on communication patterns, learning opportunities, and social interactions.
  • Historical events : Wars, economic recessions, civil rights movements.

These examples illustrate the diverse aspects within each system of ecological theory and highlight the interconnectedness of different environmental influences on human development.

How These Systems Interact

These systems within Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory interact dynamically, influencing each other and ultimately shaping individual development. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate this interaction:

Microsystem-Mesosystem Interaction

Parental involvement in school activities can positively impact a child’s academic performance. When parents communicate with teachers (microsystem) and participate in school events (mesosystem), they reinforce the importance of education and create a supportive learning environment for the child.

Exosystem-Macrosystem Interaction

Government policies regarding parental leave can affect both family dynamics and workplace culture. When a country implements policies that support parental leave (macrosystem), it enables parents to spend more time with their children during critical developmental stages. 

This can lead to positive outcomes for children’s socioemotional well-being and family cohesion (exosystem). Additionally, such policies may contribute to broader societal changes by promoting gender equality in the workforce.

Practical Applications for Ecological Theory

Ecological theory offers valuable insights that have been applied across various fields, including psychology, education, social work, and public policy. Some key applications include:

Education and School Systems

  • Understanding how different factors within and outside the classroom influence students’ academic achievement and socioemotional well-being.
  • Designing interventions and programs to create supportive learning environments.
  • Enhancing teacher-student relationships and peer dynamics.

Family Interventions and Counseling

  • Assessing family dynamics and interactions using a holistic approach.
  • Identifying areas for intervention to strengthen family functioning and relationships.
  • Exploring connections between the family and other settings, such as school or community services.

Community Development and Social Services

  • Addressing systemic barriers to opportunity and promoting community resilience.
  • Designing culturally responsive interventions that meet the diverse needs of communities.
  • Advocating for policies that promote social justice and equity.

Policy-Making and Advocacy

  • Creating inclusive policies that support the well-being of all individuals and communities.
  • Adapting policies to evolving societal needs and challenges.
  • Recognizing the impact of institutional factors such as racism and economic inequality.

Research and Evaluation

  • Studying the complex interactions between individuals and their environments.
  • Identifying risk and protective factors that influence human development.
  • Assessing interventions’ impact on multiple levels of the ecological hierarchy.

Ecological theory informs various fields, providing a comprehensive framework for understanding and promoting human development in many different contexts. Health practitioners, mental health professionals, policymakers, and researchers can utilize this framework collaboratively to create supportive environments and foster positive outcomes for all.

Strengths and Limitations of Ecological Theory

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory is one way of thinking about human development . Like other theories, it has both strengths and shortcomings.

  • Comprehensive approach : Ecological theory provides a comprehensive framework for understanding human development by considering the complex interactions between individuals and their environments.
  • Holistic approach : It emphasizes the importance of examining multiple levels of environmental influence, from immediate settings to broader societal contexts, to gain a holistic understanding of development.
  • Applicability : The theory has practical applications across various fields, including education, social work, and policy-making, guiding interventions and programs aimed at promoting positive outcomes for individuals and communities.
  • Emphasis on context : By highlighting the significance of environmental context, ecological theory acknowledges the diversity of human experiences and the impact of cultural, socioeconomic, and historical factors on development.


  • Complexity : The interconnected nature of ecological systems can make it challenging to disentangle the specific influences on individual development, leading to complexity in research and intervention efforts.
  • Overlooks internal factors : Ecological theory primarily focuses on environmental influences on development, sometimes overlooking the role of individual agency and internal factors in shaping behavior and outcomes.
  • Difficulty in generalization : Contextual factors vary widely across individuals and communities, making it difficult to generalize findings or interventions derived from ecological theory to different cultural or socioeconomic contexts.
  • Potential for oversimplification : In attempting to capture the complexity of human development within a hierarchical framework, there is a risk of oversimplification, overlooking nuances and interconnections between systems.

While ecological theory offers valuable insights into the dynamic interplay between individuals and their environments, researchers and practitioners must be mindful of its limitations and consider them when applying the theory to real-world contexts.

Eriksson, M., Ghazinour, M. & Hammarström, A. Different uses of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory in public mental health research: what is their value for guiding public mental health policy and practice ? Soc Theory Health , 16, 414–433 (2018).

Hupp, S., & Jewell, J. (Eds.). (2019). The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Development (1st ed.). Wiley.

Özdoğru, A. (2011). Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory . In: Goldstein, S., Naglieri, J.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development . Springer, Boston, MA.

Teater, B. (2021). Ecological systems theory . In K. W. Bolton, J. C. Hall, & P. Lehmann (Eds.), Theoretical Perspectives for Direct Social Work Practice (4th ed.). Springer Publishing Company.

  • Foundations
  • Write Paper

Search form

  • Experiments
  • Anthropology
  • Self-Esteem
  • Social Anxiety
  • Psychology >

Ecological Systems Theory

You and your environment.

Otherwise known as the Human Ecology Theory, the Ecological Systems theory states that human development is influenced by the different types of environmental systems. Formulated by famous psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, this theory helps us understand why we may behave differently when we compare our behavior in the presence of our family and our behavior when we are in school or at work.

This article is a part of the guide:

  • Nature or Nurture?
  • Moral Development
  • Bowlby Attachment Theory
  • Self-Concept Theory
  • Erikson’s Psychosocial Model

Browse Full Outline

  • 1 Social and Emotional Development in Children
  • 2 Nature or Nurture?
  • 3.1 Childhood Temperament
  • 4 Zone Of Proximal Development
  • 5 Cognitive Development
  • 6 Moral Development
  • 7 Ecological Systems Theory
  • 8 Erikson’s Psychosocial Model
  • 9 Self-Concept Theory

ecological system essay

The Five Environmental Systems

The ecological systems theory holds that we encounter different environments throughout our lifespan that may influence our behavior in varying degrees. These systems include the micro system, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macro system, and the chronosystem.

1. The Micro System

The micro system's setting is the direct environment we have in our lives. Your family, friends, classmates, teachers, neighbors and other people who have a direct contact with you are included in your micro system. The micro system is the setting in which we have direct social interactions with these social agents. The theory states that we are not mere recipients of the experiences we have when socializing with these people in the micro system environment, but we are contributing to the construction of such environment.

2. The Mesosystem

The mesosytem involves the relationships between the microsystems in one's life. This means that your family experience may be related to your school experience. For example, if a child is neglected by his parents, he may have a low chance of developing positive attitude towards his teachers. Also, this child may feel awkward in the presence of peers and may resort to withdrawal from a group of classmates.

3. The Exosystem

The exosystem is the setting in which there is a link between the context where in the person does not have any active role, and the context where in is actively participating. Suppose a child is more attached to his father than his mother. If the father goes abroad to work for several months, there may be a conflict between the mother and the child's social relationship, or on the other hand, this event may result to a tighter bond between the mother and the child.

4. The Macrosystem

The macrosystem setting is the actual culture of an individual. The cultural contexts involve the socioeconomic status of the person and/or his family, his ethnicity or race and living in a still developing or a third world country. For example, being born to a poor family makes a person work harder every day.

5. The Chronosystem

The chronosystem includes the transitions and shifts in one's lifespan. This may also involve the socio-historical contexts that may influence a person. One classic example of this is how divorce, as a major life transition, may affect not only the couple's relationship but also their children's behavior. According to a majority of research, children are negatively affected on the first year after the divorce. The next years after it would reveal that the interaction within the family becomes more stable and agreeable.

ecological system essay

Value of the Theory

This theory, published in 1979, has influenced many psychologists in terms of the manner of analyzing the person and the effects of different environmental systems that he encounters. The ecological systems theory has since become an important theory that became a foundation of other theorists' work.

  • Psychology 101
  • Flags and Countries
  • Capitals and Countries

Sarah Mae Sincero (Mar 14, 2012). Ecological Systems Theory. Retrieved May 20, 2024 from

You Are Allowed To Copy The Text

The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) .

This means you're free to copy, share and adapt any parts (or all) of the text in the article, as long as you give appropriate credit and provide a link/reference to this page.

That is it. You don't need our permission to copy the article; just include a link/reference back to this page. You can use it freely (with some kind of link), and we're also okay with people reprinting in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, course-material, papers, wikipedia and presentations (with clear attribution).

Want to stay up to date? Follow us!

Save this course for later.

Don't have time for it all now? No problem, save it as a course and come back to it later.

Footer bottom

  • Privacy Policy

ecological system essay

  • Subscribe to our RSS Feed
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory

  • Reference work entry
  • Cite this reference work entry

ecological system essay

  • Asil Ali Özdoğru 3  

4662 Accesses

1 Citations

54 Altmetric

Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory is a comprehensive system theory of human development that includes elements from social, cultural, economical, and political contexts in the development of an individual.


In his seminal book The Ecology of Human Development , Urie Bronfenbrenner [ 3 ] introduced a new theory of human development that emphasizes interactive processes between the person and the environment. His ecological systems theory proposed that individual’s development in any given area is primarily shaped by the interactions and relationships between the individual and different layers of surroundings. Activities, roles, and relationships of individuals in any setting constitute contexts of development. According to the ecological view, a thorough study of human development can best be achieved by the analysis of these different levels and contexts of person–environment interactions.

In ecological systems theory, nested layers of environment, like the...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

American Psychological Association (APA). (2004). Early intervention can improve low-income children’s cognitive skills and academic achievement. Psychology Matters . Retrieved online on February 19, 2008, from

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1969). Motivational and social components in compensatory education programs: Suggested principles, practices, and research designs. In E. H. Grotberg (Ed.), Critical issues in research related to disadvantaged children (pp. 1–32). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Google Scholar  

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families. (2007). Head start program fact sheet . Retrieved online on February 23, 2008, from

Download references

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Educational and Counseling Psychology, University at Albany, SUNY, 1400 Washington Ave, ED 233, Albany, NY, 12222, USA

Asil Ali Özdoğru

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Editor information

Editors and affiliations.

Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center, 230 South 500 East, Suite 100, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84102, USA

Sam Goldstein Ph.D.

Department of Psychology MS 2C6, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, 22030, USA

Jack A. Naglieri Ph.D. ( Professor of Psychology ) ( Professor of Psychology )

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

About this entry

Cite this entry.

Özdoğru, A. (2011). Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory. In: Goldstein, S., Naglieri, J.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development. Springer, Boston, MA.

Download citation


Publisher Name : Springer, Boston, MA

Print ISBN : 978-0-387-77579-1

Online ISBN : 978-0-387-79061-9

eBook Packages : Behavioral Science

Share this entry

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Publish with us

Policies and ethics

  • Find a journal
  • Track your research

The Psychology Notes Headquarters

What is Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory?

American psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner formulated the Ecological Systems Theory to explain how social environments affect children’s development. This theory emphasizes the importance of studying children in multiple environments, known as ecological systems, in the attempt to understand their development.

What is Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory?

According to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, children typically find themselves enmeshed in various ecosystems, from the most intimate home ecological system to the larger school system, and then to the most expansive system which includes society and culture. Each of these ecological systems inevitably interact with and influence each other in all aspects of the children’s lives.

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model organizes contexts of development into five nested levels of external influence: Microsystem , Mesosystem , Ecosystem , Macrosystem , and Chronosystem . These levels are categorized from the most intimate level to the broadest.

bronfenbrenner theory

The Microsystem

The Bronfenbrenner theory suggests that the microsystem is the smallest and most immediate environment in which children live. As such, the microsystem comprises the home, school or daycare, peer group and community environment of the children.

The Bronfenbrenner Ecological Model: Microsystem

Interactions within the microsystem typically involve personal relationships with family members, classmates, teachers and caregivers. How these groups or individuals interact with the children will affect how they develop. More nurturing and supportive interactions and relationships will likely to foster a better environment for development.

Bronfenbrenner proposed that many of these interactions are bi-directional: how children react to people in their microsystem will also affect how these people treat the children in return.

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model - Microsystem

For example, a little boy playing alone in a room. This little boy suddenly bursts out crying for no apparent reason. His mother, who is making lunch in the kitchen, hears the boy crying. She comes into the room, picks the little boy up, and carries him to the living room.

In the above example, the little boy initiated the interaction (crying), and his mother responded. In a way, the little boy influenced his mother’s behavior.

One of the most significant findings that Urie Bronfenbrenner unearthed in his study of ecological systems is that it is possible for siblings who find themselves in the same ecological system to experience very different environments.

Therefore, given two siblings experiencing the same microsystem, it is not impossible for the development of them to progress in different manners. Each child’s particular personality traits, such as temperament, which is influenced by unique genetic and biological factors, ultimately have a hand in how he/she is treated by others.

The Mesosystem

The mesosystem encompasses the interaction of the different microsystems which children find themselves in. It is, in essence, a system of microsystems and as such, involves linkages between home and school, between peer group and family, and between family and community.

The Bronfenbrenner Ecological Model: Mesosystem

According to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory, if a child’s parents are actively involved in the friendships of their child, for example they invite their child’s friends over to their house from time to time and spend time with them, then the child’s development is affected positively through harmony and like-mindedness.

However, if the child’s parents dislike their child’s peers and openly criticize them, the child will experience disequilibrium and conflicting emotions, which will likely lead to negative development.

The Exosystem

The exosystem in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model pertains to the linkages that may exist between two or more settings, one of which may not contain the developing children but affect them indirectly nonetheless.

The Bronfenbrenner Ecological Model: Exosystem

Based on Bronfenbrenner’s findings, people and places that children may not directly interact with may still have an impact on their lives. Such places and people may include the parents’ workplaces, extended family members, and the neighborhood the children live in.

For example, a father who is continually passed up for promotion by an indifferent boss at the workplace may take it out on his children and mistreat them at home. This will have a negative impact on the child’s development.

The Macrosystem

The macrosystem in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model is the largest and most distant collection of people and places to the children that still have significant influences on them. This ecological system is composed of the children’s cultural patterns and values, specifically their dominant beliefs and ideas, as well as political and economic systems.

The Bronfenbrenner Ecological Model: Macrosystem

For example, children in war-torn areas will experience a different kind of development than children in a peaceful environment.

The Chronosystem

The chronosystem adds the useful dimension of time to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. It demonstrates the influence of both change and constancy in the children’s environments. The chronosystem may include a change in family structure, address, parents’ employment status, as well as immense society changes such as economic cycles and wars.

The Bronfenbrenner Ecological Model: Chronosystem

Application of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

Through the various ecological systems, Bronfenbrenner’s theory demonstrates the diversity of interrelated influences on child development. Awareness of the contexts that children are in can sensitize us to variations in the way children may act in different settings.

For example, a child who frequently bullies smaller children at school may portray the role of a terrified victim at home. Due to these variations, adults who are concerned with the care of a particular child should pay close attention to his/her behavior in different settings, as well as to the quality and type of connections that exist between these settings.

How to cite this post: What is Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory?. (2019, May 3). The Psychology Notes Headquarters.

Related posts:

  • What is the Havighurst Developmental Tasks Theory?
  • Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development
  • What is Werner’s Orthogenetic Theory?
  • Moral Development in Children
  • Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development

Categories: Developmental Psychology

41 Responses

  • Comments 41
  • Pingbacks 0

Very useful overview of Bronfenbrenner, thank you

You’re very welcome.

How would I cite this information APA format?

Please refer to this website:

Hope this helps, A

What is the date of this pulblication

The post was originally published in November 2013.

Very educative indeed…

when was this article published and by who, need it for reference purposes

This does not help. Who is the author of these words?

The articles and diagrams on this website are written/created by our team of writers. If you use the content on this website, you MUST provide appropriate credit. Please see here on how to cite the content on this website.

Hi, just trying to find out who wrote this article (Author)?

Can you explain the important of studying bronfenbrenner ecology tk an ecd teacher

Use the site as the author e.g. for in-text citations (The Psychology Notes Headquarters, 2011). Seeing as this information isn’t peer-reviewed I probably wouldn’t cite it as anyone could have written it.

Good advice!

I have a couple of questions: – who is the author of this article? – I note you list copyright on the diagram demonstrating the model. Is this your original work? What Bronfenbrenner source did you use to create it?

Good morning,

I have to submit a task on Bronfenbrenner and appreciate your notes – it really helps. May I know who the author is for proper reference? Or will it be Psychology Notes HQ?

Who are the authors of these articles? The articles and diagrams on this website are written/created by our team of writers. If you use the content on this website, you MUST provide appropriate credit. Please see below on how to cite the content on this website.

How to cite the content on this website? If you use the content on this website in your work, you MUST cite this website as your source. Here’s how to do so in APA format .

Hope this helps.

good afternoon

whoah this blog is excellent i like studying your posts. Keep up the good work! You realize, a lot of persons are hunting round for this info, you can help them greatly.

Loved this clear and informative blog post! This theory seems so great that it makes me wonder what the cons or problems with using this theory? I’m not trying to be negative, just well informed. Thanks!

how do I cite this?

Does this apply to adults as well?

who is the author of this aritcle so i can properply cite this in my essay!?

Here’s how to cite the content on this website:

This is not peer-reviewed, so probably just “Retrieved from” would be better. I hate that its not as it explains things in much simpler terms.

You can google for apa format citations for ur referal hehe

Can i get the cite of this information.

Informative. This helped me a lot. Thanks.

Thank you so much!

Thank you this is very helpful

Very well defined article with examples

Are there four or five systems in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of development? Some resources include chronosystem, but some exclude.

Hello, Can I please use this diagram for my honour’s thesis literature review? Thank you, Luella

your article is presented with the help of a systematic approach.

Useful content 👌 👍

In 1979 is when he first found about this information ?

Excellent article and diagram. May I use the diagram for my dissertation? Is this the correct process for requesting permission? Thank you.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

ecological system essay

Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological System Theory Essay

Introduction, microsystem, macrosystem.

Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory postulates that human development is the sum of factors of bioecological systems that are in an environment that one lives. The theory elucidates how bioecological systems influence human development throughout one’s lifespan, as it is extensively applicable in developmental psychology. Developmental psychology majorly entails the study of children’s behavior under strange circumstances and their interaction with adults. The theory views human development in the context of relationships that exist in bioecological systems of one’s environment. Bronfenbrenner (1994) argues that, human development occurs progressively through complex and reciprocal interactions between an individual and people, and objects and symbols that are in a given immediate environment (p.37). For interactions to be effective, they must be enduring and should occur in the immediate environment to form proximal processes that significantly influence human development. The proximal process exists in bioecological systems made of five spheres, namely microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem. This essay describes four spheres of bioecological systems viz. microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem, and analyzes the past and present biopsychosocial factors that influence human development.

Microsystem is the closest bioecological environment that directly influences human development. Microsystem consists of structures such as family, childcare, neighborhood, school, and workplace, which mainly form part of immediate bioecological environment. In microsystem, an individual experience regular interactions through relationships, routine activities, and social roles that elicit progressive and sustained interactions, which bring about human development. According to Bronfenbrenner (1994), proximal processes operate optimally in microsystem because it forms an immediate environment that elicit and sustain human development (p.39). Under microsystem level, family is a dominant structure that does not only influence child development but also development in adults. At microsystem level, relationships have a reciprocal influence that shape development of individuals in a given social structure. For instance, parents have the capacity to influence beliefs, behavior, and values of a child, and vice versa. Bioecological systems theory states that, reciprocal interactions are strongest at microsystem level, and they have the greatest impact on human development due to the proximity of bioecological factors.

Family, as a social structure, significantly influenced my development during childhood because family members advised me on how to go about in life and become a successful person. For example, my mother loved me immensely in that she used to advise me regularly on how to have a decent discipline and work hard in my studies. Since I perceived that she loved me and wanted the best of me, I became determined not to let my mother down and thus I obeyed her advices to the letter. Then, I became an exceptionally courteous and industrious student in my class, which earned me warm reputation not only at school but also at home. Our relationship with my mother strengthened to the extent that, she would not deny me anything that I asked and on my part, I was so afraid to do anything that would disgrace her. Thus, reciprocal interaction between my mother and I significantly influenced my beliefs, values and behavior.

Present interaction with my spouse has tremendously influenced my social skills since I have learned that different individuals have diverse beliefs, values, and behaviors that complicate formation of relationships. When I first met my spouse, we differed in most aspects of social interest, but with time, through effective interactions, we managed to make numerous compromises to accommodate our differences. From experiences of disagreements, I learned that an individual is an entity with unique values, beliefs, and behavior that need tolerance for a healthy relationship that would stand the test to develop. Thus, my interaction with my spouse has shaped my perception of individuals as unique members of society who have different interests and, therefore, they need tolerance and forbearance from their interacting partners.

Mesosystem comprises interaction of various microsystems that are in bioecological environment where one lives. For instance, interaction of microsystem structures such as family, childcare, neighborhood, school and workplace, determines overall human development in the society. Mesosystem has increased societal forces that influence human development, unlike microsystem that only depends on individual interaction. Johnson (2008) argues that, interaction between family and school is particularly crucial in shaping the development of elementary school pupils because it provides a platform for teachers and parents to interact effectively in educating the pupils (p.3). Therefore, it implies that interactions of microsystems enhance concerted efforts of societal forces that are crucial in shaping human development. Thus, the more the interacting microsystems, the significant are the societal forces that influence an individual.

Family and school are social structures that significantly influenced my development during my childhood. Both structures influenced my behavior because they taught me to be a hardworking and discipline student so that I could achieve extraordinary dreams. For example, during my childhood, my mother and my teacher were friends, for they interacted more often. Since my mother wanted the best out of me, she constantly consulted the teacher to hear about my progress and in turn sought advices on how to enhance my academic performance. With time, I realized that my teacher cared so much like my mother in that she would always ensure that I have done my assignments and encouraged me to work hard lest I disgraced my mother. Hence, relationships between my mother and my teacher compelled me to work hard in my studies because I had no way of evading my duties because both school and family constantly monitored my progress.

Currently, interaction between my mother and my spouse has significantly shaped relationships in my family. Before I got married, my mother has been advising me on how to become a responsible father in a family so that when time comes I assume my responsibility well. Throughout my life, I have liked the way my mother treated us as a family, and I terribly longed to marry a spouse with qualities that resembled those of my mother. At first, we differed on many issues with my spouse, but when she interacted with my mother, she changed appreciably and we lived happily. Current interaction of my mother and my spouse has saved my family a fantastic deal of conflicts that usually did arise due to poor relationships.

Exosystem consists of interaction of diverse microsystems with at least one social structure that has indirect influence on an individual. At exosystem level, social structures that do not exist in microsystem sphere of an individual have indirect influence on human development, for they contribute to direct influences from immediate social structures. For example, interaction of family and parent’s workplace or school and neighborhood influence development of children in the society. Boyd, Bee, and Johnson (2008) argue that, although children in the family may not have direct contact with social structures workplace and neighborhood, they experience both negative and positive impacts from remote interactions that influence their own microsystem (p.52). Three microsystems, family, school and peer group, which form part of exosystem, indirectly affect development of children in the society.

During my childhood, my parents used to spent a considerable deal of time in their workplaces leaving us alone as children to stay alone. My father would come home rarely, for he worked in a different state from where we lived. Although my mother worked within the state where we lived, she would usually leave early in the morning and arrive late in the evening. Thus, their constant absence in the family made me take responsibility of taking care of my siblings as I learned that my parents were busy working hard in their respective workplaces so that they could provide for us. Therefore, interaction of our family with workplaces through my parents taught me to take responsibility in the family, which has made me develop leadership qualities.

Currently, since children are susceptible to various diseases, I have been taking my children to hospital for treatment and medical checkup quite often. Since my family interacts with hospital quite often, I have been able to learn a lot from Canadian health care system regarding prevention, treatment, and management of common infections that affect children and other family members, as well. If it were not for my children, I would not have bothered to learn health issues that affect families; thus, my children interaction with hospital gave me an insight of not only Canadian health care system but understanding of general human health.

Macrosystem is a complex of social structures such as microsystem, mesosystem, and exosystem, which are under the influence of customs, norms, values, and laws that govern societal culture. According to Johnson (2008), macrosystem is the outermost sphere that has a cascading effect on development of children through interaction of various spheres, which consequently determines values, beliefs, norms, customs and laws that influence children’s microsystem (p.3). Biopsychosocial factors that exist in the community, society, and culture interact with diverse microsystems, mesosystems, and exosystems, thus forming a complex of macrosystem, which entirely determines human development in the society. It means that macrosystem is the blueprint of societal culture since it consists of diverse beliefs, values, norms, laws, and customs that dominate society and thus significantly influence human development.

During my childhood, Canadian customs and values significantly influenced me to adopt British and French culture since I attended a school, which had both British and French students. History shows that Canadian culture emanated from interaction of British and French culture; therefore, it enabled me to interact effectively with other students while at school. Since Canadian culture had elements of British and French culture, I developed interests in learning music and literature, which enabled me to adopt and develop their culture during my childhood. Hence, Canadian customs and values made me appreciate and learn other cultures at school for I perceived that we had common elements in our different cultures.

Currently, government policies have dictated my career development as a nurse. Government polices stipulate that I must undergo a recommendable nursing course for me to qualify and obtain practicing license. Furthermore, government polices do not only dictate that I must have certain qualification, but also expect that I must comply with nursing codes of ethics so that I can practice nursing. Hence, government policies have influenced my nursing course, schooling years and ultimately my career development. For one to qualify as a nurse, it depends on compliance with government policies and laws that govern nursing profession. In my case, since government regard nurses by paying them well, I opted to choose nursing as my career.

Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory has taught me that human development occurs due to interplay of many factors in bioecological environment, which act in hierarchical levels of life; microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and macrosystem. These hierarchical levels of systems have proximal processes that directly or indirectly affect human development in a complex society. As a nurse, I have learned that educating people on health issues requires one to target the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem spheres to have comprehensive impact on population.

Boyd, D., Bee, H., & Johnson, P. (2008). Lifespan Development, Third Canadian Edition. Canada: Pearson Education.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological Models of Human Development. In International Encyclopedia of Education , 3, 2nd. Ed. Oxford: Elsevier.

Reprinted in: Guavain, M., & Cole, M. (Eds.). (1993). Readings on the Development of Children (2nd Ed.) New York: Freeman.

Johnson, E. (2008). Ecological Systems and Complexity Theory: Toward an Alternative Model of Accountability in Education. An International Journal of Complexity and Education , 6, 1-10.

  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2022, March 28). Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological System Theory.

"Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological System Theory." IvyPanda , 28 Mar. 2022,

IvyPanda . (2022) 'Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological System Theory'. 28 March.

IvyPanda . 2022. "Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological System Theory." March 28, 2022.

1. IvyPanda . "Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological System Theory." March 28, 2022.


IvyPanda . "Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological System Theory." March 28, 2022.

  • Urie Bronfenbrenner, a Psychological Researcher
  • The Cross-cultural Construct of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems
  • Children's Disposition to Bullying and Influential Factors
  • Pygmy-Possum Burramys Parvus: The Effects of Climate Change
  • Measurement of the Rate of Glycolysis Using Saccharomyces Cerevisae
  • Recovery Plan For Manorina Melanotis — Black-Eared Miner
  • Physiological Differences Between Males and Females
  • Sex Determination in Amphibians

Essay about Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

A child’s development is affected by their social relationships and the world around them. The ecological systems theory introduced by Urie Brofenbrenner (1979) focuses on the development of a person within the ecological environment, outlining and explaining the complex relationship and exchange between the infant, the family and society, and how these exchanges impact upon child development.

Bronfenbrenner challenges previous understandings on how children develop and within his model, identifies a hierarchy of influence levels that impact on child development including the Microsystem, the Mesosystem, the Exosystem and the Macrosystem. This essay provides an introduction to and explanatory on Brofenbrenners theory whilst referencing the author’s own childhood development in the context of opportunities and risks. “A child’s well-being is an essential foundation for early learning, and all subsequent learning” (NCCA 2004).

Development occurs through the process of progressively more complex exchanges between a child and its environment, with Bronfenbrenner describing the ecological environment as a “set of nested structures, each inside the next like a set of Russian dolls” (Bronfenbrenner 1979). The ecological theory explains that an individual will encounter different environments throughout their lifespan, and that it is the interrelationship between the child and the environment that may influence their behavior to varying degrees.

An example of this is a child’s parents affecting their beliefs and behaviours whilst at the same time, the child affecting the parents’ in return. As such, each child’s ecological model is unique and has different environmental influences. The first system within the theory is the Microsystem. This is widely considered the most influential level of the Ecological Systems Theory and is the setting in which an individual lives and where most of their direct interactions occur. As the child ages, the Microsystem becomes more complex and involves a greater number of people such as childcare centers or pre-school.

The Microsystem comprises ‘a pattern of activities, roles and interpersonal relations experienced by the developing person in a given setting with particular physical and material characteristics’ (Bronfenbrenner 1979). Family, peers and school are all examples of the type of interactions that populate this system. Bronfenbrenner’s theory explains that an individual is not a passive recipient of experiences in these settings, with relationships being bidirectional. A child’s interactions with them determine what is possible and what is not.

Their responses to the environment they create, personal preferences and genetics dictate the possibilities of what a child might become as “microsystems evolve and develop much as adolescents themselves do from forces within and without” (Garbarino 1985). The importance of a baby’s attachments to their parents (mothers and fathers) has long been acknowledged (Bowlby, 1988), with the experience young babies have of forming relationships crucial in that it can influence all future relationships (Perry, 1995; Karr-Morse and Wiley, 1997).

As adoptive children may experience difficulties with behavioral and emotional control, the establishment of positive family relationships can be challenging (Brodzinsky & Pinderhughes 2002). Parental responses are linked to their own experiences from childhood and can determine the quality of current parent-child relationships and parenting styles (Howard, 2011; Newland, Freeman, & Coyle, 2011). Garbarino states that to develop a sense of self”adolescents need warm, responsive and active ‘partners”(Garbarino 1985).

As an adopted child who was emotionally reactive to the adoptive process, and having been placed in a family who were emotionally unable or unwilling, due to limited experience and understanding, to interact in a way that fostered a positive parent rapport and therefore develop a healthy relationship, this had a negative affect on my development as it lead to increased emotional unresponsiveness in my broader relationships, and negative self-evaluation (Garbarino 1985).

However, the development of independence from my family structure in response to the situation, led to an increase in my resilience which was developmentally positive as “resilient children are better equipped to resist stress and adversity, cope with change and uncertainty, and to recover faster and more completed from traumatic event or episodes” (Newman and Blackburn (2002). The next level of the ecological theory is the Mesosystem.

The Mesosystem consists of the interactions between the different parts of a child’s Microsystem, and therefore essentially represents the connections between the Microsystems. Keenan and Evans (2009) state “one could think about the mesosystem as the connections which bring together the different contexts in which a child develops”. Therefore, whilst the “proximal processes within the family are considered within ecological theory to be the primary mechanism of development, links between contexts in which the child participates also affect development trajectories” (Schweiger & O’Brien 2005).

The examination of the Mesosystem can be viewed as important to the understanding of family relationships, as a child’s experience in other contexts away from the family structure can alter their perceptions and ultimately influence the way that they interact with their parent and siblings (Schweiger & O’Brien 2005). A positive effect a Mesosystem can have on a child can be seen through the opportunities it creates to provide social support and consistency in its daily activities.

My adoptive father was a sergeant in the army. A common way for army families to bond and socialise when the regiment was on base outside of training periods, was for communal barbeques and parties to be held. This allowed me to come into contact with different mesosystems in new settings, and showed then when together, my adopted parents were united in raising me. However, Mesosystems also have the potential to cause stress for the child.

As an adopted child who has had access to and contact with my biological family, including siblings and other relatives, these interactions have been difficult and have affected my relationship with my adoptive parents even though they did not actively participate in the interactions. An example of this is the abandonment feelings that surface when interacting with my biological family and the expressions of anger and resentment that impacts on my adoptive parents through my negative behavior and emotional state which was sometimes directed at them.

This is the direct result of two microsystems coming together, and my feelings of being placed in a situation where | felt I had to play multiple roles at once. Beyond the Microsystem and Mesosystem, Bronfenbrenners system is expanded to include environmental factors that are less direct in a child’s life. The Exosystem is a setting that does not involve the child as an active participant, but structures existing within it can be see to indirectly impact upon them. As an adopted child, it is arguable that these outer systems are more important and influential than the microsystem.

The affects on an adopted child can be seen in greater detail through social services interventions in their life. Adoption is the choice of an individual/s to parent children who are biologically unrelated to them. The system of social services is engaged when establishing a legal parent-child relationship, and the ecological theory highlights the importance of the experiences between social workers and therapists in terms of how the experiences might affect the child (Schweiger & O’Brien 2005).

My adoptive parents’ experiences with social services were quite negative and challenging. When choosing to foster additional children this caused them to relive previous experiences and emotions and caused tension in the household. As a result this caused negative affects between me and my adopted parents as my views as a child hearing various comments and witnessing their behavior both pre and post social services meetings was that the adoption and fostering processes was a burden, and that I as the central factor was the cause of their problems.

It has also impacted on my beliefs and attitudes towards adoption and fostering as a whole, and my beliefs and attitudes towards them. The Macrosystem includes the belief systems or ideologies that inform cultures or sub-cultures. It is the overall culture that the child is involved in, and can include Australian culture. The ecological systems theory “emphasizes the impact that the wider society has on how families function and view themselves” (Schweiger & O’Brien 2005).

Traditional family preservation views and the stigma that is arguably still attached to the concept of adoption are all pressures and messages from the outer systems that influence a child’s own perception on who they are and what there identity is. All the levels in Bronfenbrenners Ecological Systems Theory play an important roll in the wellbeing of children and families. In concluding I have evidenced the complexity of Bronfenbrenners Ecological theory, whilst highlighting that

More Essays

  • Essay on Advantages Of Adler’s Theory Of Birth Order
  • Attachment Theory: Early Childhood In Japan Research Paper
  • Harold Prince’s Theory On Concept Musicals Essay
  • Vygotsky’s Theory Of Cognitive Development Essay
  • Essay On John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory
  • Moral Theory In Ethics: The Social Contract Theory Essay
  • Charles Darwin’s Scientific Theory Of Natural Selection Essay
  • Differential Association Theory Essay
  • 20th Century Economic Systems Essay
  • Betty Neuman Systems Model Essay

ecological system essay


An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscapes, work together to form a bubble of life.

Biology, Ecology, Earth Science, Meteorology, Geography, Human Geography, Physical Geography

Loading ...

Morgan Stanley

An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants , animals , and other organisms , as well as weather and landscape , work together to form a bubble of life. Ecosystems contain biotic or living, parts, as well as a biotic factors , or nonliving parts. Biotic factors include plants , animals , and other organisms . A biotic factors include rocks , temperature , and humidity . Every factor in an ecosystem depends on every other factor, either directly or indirectly. A change in the temperature of an ecosystem will often affect what plants will grow there, for instance. Animals that depend on plants for food and shelter will have to adapt to the changes, move to another ecosystem , or perish . Ecosystems can be very large or very small. Tide pools , the ponds left by the ocean as the tide goes out, are complete, tiny ecosystems . Tide pools contain seaweed , a kind of algae , which uses photosynthesis to create food . Herbivores such as abalone eat the seaweed . Carnivores such as sea stars eat other animals in the tide pool , such as clams or mussels . Tide pools depend on the changing level of ocean water. Some organisms , such as seaweed , thrive in an aquatic environment, when the tide is in and the pool is full. Other organisms , such as hermit crabs , cannot live underwater and depend on the shallow pools left by low tides . In this way, the biotic parts of the ecosystem depend on a biotic factors . The whole surface of Earth is a series of connected ecosystems . Ecosystems are often connected in a larger biome . Biomes are large sections of land, sea, or atmosphere. Forests , ponds , reefs , and tundra are all types of biomes , for example. They're organized very generally, based on the types of plants and animals that live in them. Within each forest , each pond , each reef , or each section of tundra , you'll find many different ecosystems . The biome of the Sahara Desert , for instance, includes a wide variety of ecosystems . The arid climate and hot weather characterize the biome . Within the Sahara are oasis ecosystems , which have date palm trees, freshwater , and animals such as crocodiles . The Sahara also has dune ecosystems , with the changing landscape determined by the wind . Organisms in these ecosystems , such as snakes or scorpions , must be able to survive in sand dunes for long periods of time. The Sahara even includes a marine environment, where the Atlantic Ocean creates cool fogs on the Northwest African coast. Shrubs and animals that feed on small trees, such as goats , live in this Sahara ecosystem . Even similar-sounding biomes could have completely different ecosystems . The biome of the Sahara Desert , for instance, is very different from the biome of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and China. The Gobi is a cold desert , with frequent snowfall and freezing temperatures . Unlike the Sahara, the Gobi has ecosystems based not in sand , but kilometers of bare rock . Some grasses are able to grow in the cold, dry climate . As a result, these Gobi ecosystems have grazing animals such as gazelles and even takhi , an endangered species of wild horse. Even the cold desert ecosystems of the Gobi are distinct from the freezing desert ecosystems of Antarctica. Antarcticas thick ice sheet covers a continent made almost entirely of dry, bare rock . Only a few mosses grow in this desert ecosystem , supporting only a few birds, such as skuas . Threats to Ecosystems For thou sands of years, people have interacted with ecosystems . Many cultures developed around nearby ecosystems . Many Native American tribes of North Americas Great Plains developed a complex lifestyle based on the native plants and animals of plains ecosystems , for instance. Bison , a large grazing animal native to the Great Plains , became the most important biotic factor in many Plains Indians cultures , such as the Lakota or Kiowa . Bison are sometimes mistakenly called buffalo. These tribes used buffalo hides for shelter and clothing, buffalo meat for food , and buffalo horn for tools. The tallgrass prairie of the Great Plains supported bison herds , which tribes followed throughout the year.

As human populations have grown, however, people have overtaken many ecosystems . The tall grass prairie of the Great Plains , for instance, became farmland . As the ecosystem shrunk, fewer bison could survive . Today, a few herds survive in protected ecosystems such as Yellowstone National Park. In the tropical rain forest ecosystems surrounding the Amazon River in South America, a similar situation is taking place. The Amazon rain forest includes hundreds of ecosystems , including canopies, understories, and forest floors. These ecosystems support vast food webs . Canopies are ecosystems at the top of the rainforest , where tall, thin trees such as figs grow in search of sunlight. Canopy ecosystems also include other plants , called epiphytes , which grow directly on branches. Understory ecosystems exist under the canopy . They are darker and more humid than canopies. Animals such as monkeys live in understory ecosystems , eating fruits from trees as well as smaller animals like beetles. Forest floor ecosystems support a wide variety of flowers , which are fed on by insects like butterflies. Butterflies, in turn, provide food for animals such as spiders in forest floor ecosystems . Human activity threatens all these rain forest ecosystems in the Amazon. Thou sands of acres of land are cleared for farmland , housing, and industry . Countries of the Amazon rain forest , such as Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador, are underdeveloped. Cutting down trees to make room for crops such as soy and corn benefits many poor farmers. These resources give them a reliable source of income and food . Children may be able to attend school, and families are able to afford better health care . However, the destruction of rain forest ecosystems has its costs. Many modern medicines have been developed from rain forest plants . Curare , a muscle relaxant, and quinine , used to treat malaria , are just two of these medicines . Many scientists worry that destroying the rain forest ecosystem may prevent more medicines from being developed. The rain forest ecosystems also make poor farmland . Unlike the rich soils of the Great Plains , where people destroyed the tall grass prairie ecosystem , Amazon rain forest soil is thin and has few nutrients . Only a few seasons of crops may grow before all the nutrients are absorbed. The farmer or agribusiness must move on to the next patch of land, leaving an empty ecosystem behind. Rebounding Ecosystems Ecosystems can recover from destruction , however. The delicate coral reef ecosystems in the South Pacific are at risk due to rising ocean temperatures and decreased salinity . Corals bleach, or lose their bright colors, in water that is too warm. They die in water that isnt salty enough. Without the reef structure, the ecosystem collapses. Organisms such as algae , plants such as seagrass , and animals such as fish, snakes , and shrimp disappear. Most coral reef ecosystems will bounce back from collapse. As ocean temperature cools and retains more salt, the brightly colored corals return. Slowly, they build reefs . Algae , plants , and animals also return. Individual people, cultures , and governments are working to preserve ecosystems that are important to them. The government of Ecuador, for instance, recognizes ecosystem rights in the countrys constitution . The so-called Rights of Nature says Nature or Pachamama [Earth], where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist , maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution . Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public bodies. Ecuador is home not only to rain forest ecosystems , but also river ecosystems and the remarkable ecosystems on the Galapagos Islands .

Bactrian and Dromedary Different desert ecosystems support different species of camels. The dromedary camel is tall and fast, with long legs. It is native to the hot, dry deserts of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The Bactrian camel has a thicker coat, is shorter, and has more body fat than the dromedary. The Bactrian camel is native to the cold desert steppes of Central Asia. It is easy to tell the two types of camels apart: Dromedaries have one hump, Bactrians have two.

Coral Triangle The most diverse ecosystem in the world is the huge Coral Triangle in Southeast Asia. The Coral Triangle stretches from the Philippines in the north to the Solomon Islands in the east to the islands of Indonesia and Papua in the west.

Ecocide The destruction of entire ecosystems by human beings has been called ecocide, or murder of the environment.

Human Ecosystem "Human ecosystem" is the term scientists use to study the way people interact with their ecosystems. The study of human ecosystems considers geography, ecology, technology, economics, politics, and history. The study of urban ecosystems focuses on cities and suburbs.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.


Educator reviewer, last updated.

March 6, 2024

User Permissions

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. They will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to them, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.

If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.

Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service .


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources


  1. Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory

    Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory posits that an individual's development is influenced by a series of interconnected environmental systems, ranging from the immediate surroundings (e.g., family) to broad societal structures (e.g., culture). These systems include the Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exosystem, Macrosystem, and Chronosystem, each representing different levels of environmental ...

  2. Ecological Systems Theory

    Samsu Alam. Ecological Systems Theory (EST), also known as human ecology, is an ecological/ system framework developed in 1979 by Urie Bronfenbrenner (Harkonen, 2007). Harkonen notes that this theory was influenced by Vygotsky's socio-cultural theory and Lewin's behaviorism theory. Bronfenbrenner's research focused on the impact of social ...

  3. (PDF) Ecological Systems Theory: Exploring the Development of the

    The Ecological Systems theory represents a convergence of biological, psychological, and social sciences. Through the study of the ecology of human development, social scientists seek to explain ...

  4. Ecological systems theory

    Ecological systems theory is a broad term used to capture the theoretical contributions of developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner. Bronfenbrenner developed the foundations of the theory throughout his career, published a major statement of the theory in American Psychologist, articulated it in a series of propositions and hypotheses in his most cited book, The Ecology of Human ...

  5. Ecological Theory: Bronfenbrenner's Five Systems

    The five levels of ecological theory are the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem. 1. Microsystem. The microsystem refers to the immediate environments where individuals directly interact, such as family, school, peer groups, and religious institutions. These settings have a profound impact on a person's ...

  6. The Ecological Systems Theory by Urie Bronfenbrenner

    The ecological systems theory holds that we encounter different environments throughout our lifespan that may influence our behavior in varying degrees. These systems include the micro system, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macro system, and the chronosystem. 1. The Micro System. The micro system's setting is the direct environment we have ...

  7. Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory

    The most substantial application of ecological systems theory is the American national Head Start Program that Bronfenbrenner co-founded with psychologists Mamie Clark and Edward Zigler in 1965 [].Serving more than 900,000 preschool-age children with a budget over 6.8 billion dollars in 2007, the Head Start Program aims to help disadvantaged children to attain optimal levels of cognitive and ...

  8. Child Socialization: Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory Essay

    Introduction. Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory attempts to explain how the interaction between the intrinsic characteristics of children and their environment affects how they develop and grow up. It emphasizes the importance of assessing children while in different surroundings to understand their growth and development (Elliott ...

  9. Ecological Systems Theory

    The ecological systems theory was developed by renowned scholar Urie Bronfenbrenner. The theory argues that development should be viewed as a socio-cultural phenomenon shaped by a number of systems containing, factors that shape development. The theory identifies five systems that contribute to development as direct social inputs and also ...

  10. What is Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory?

    This ecological system is composed of the children's cultural patterns and values, specifically their dominant beliefs and ideas, as well as political and economic systems. For example, children in war-torn areas will experience a different kind of development than children in a peaceful environment. The Chronosystem

  11. The Ecological Systems Theory Free Essay Example

    The last two levels of the ecological systems theory are the macrosystem and the chronosystem. The macrosystem consists of cultures, values, and laws. The macrosystem "describes the culture in which individuals live" (Santrock, 2007). The macrosystem has much to do with what is going on in society and how it affects the child.

  12. Ecological Systems Theory Essay

    Ecological Systems Theory Essay. Good Essays. 2511 Words. 11 Pages. Open Document. From the time a person first enters this world until they taketheir final breath, they go through many changes that will shape their character and determine how they handle situations in their life. Many different psychologists have studied human behavior and why ...

  13. Ecosystem

    ecosystem, the complex of living organisms, their physical environment, and all their interrelationships in a particular unit of space. A brief treatment of ecosystems follows. For full treatment, see biosphere. An ecosystem can be categorized into its abiotic constituents, including minerals, climate, soil, water, sunlight, and all other ...

  14. Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological System Theory Essay

    Introduction. Bronfenbrenner's bioecological systems theory postulates that human development is the sum of factors of bioecological systems that are in an environment that one lives. The theory elucidates how bioecological systems influence human development throughout one's lifespan, as it is extensively applicable in developmental ...

  15. What is an ecosystem? (article)

    An ecosystem consists of a community of organisms together with their physical environment. Ecosystems can be of different sizes and can be marine, aquatic, or terrestrial. Broad categories of terrestrial ecosystems are called biomes. In ecosystems, both matter and energy are conserved. Energy flows through the system—usually from light to ...

  16. Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory Essay example

    Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory Essay example. The old African proverb 'it takes a whole village to raise a child' (Mohamed, 1996, p. 57) rings significantly through Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner and Evans 2000); a theory which focuses on gaining insight into human development through identifying ...

  17. (PDF) Ecological Systems Theory

    Developed by psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, ecological systems theory explains how. human development is influenced by different types of environmental systems. Researchers, policy makers, and ...

  18. Ecological Systems Theory, Urie Brofenbrenner

    The ecological systems theory of human development is proposed by Urie Brofenbrenner, a Russian American psychologist. In this theory, he stated that everything in a child and also the surrounding environment can affect the child development (Oswalt, 2008). He also developed this theory to comprehend the relationship between the child, the ...

  19. Essay about Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory

    The ecological systems theory introduced by Urie Brofenbrenner (1979) focuses on the development of a person within the ecological environment, outlining and explaining the complex relationship and exchange between the infant, the family and society, and how these exchanges impact upon child development. ... This essay provides an introduction ...

  20. Climate change and ecosystems: threats, opportunities and solutions

    In our introduction we outline the themes, introduce the papers in the thematic issue, and conclude with a synthesis of the main findings of the Forum. In doing so, we emphasize the research needed to better understand threats, opportunities and solutions regarding climate change and ecosystems. ... Abrupt changes in ecological systems (ACES ...

  21. Ecosystem

    An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape, work together to form a bubble of life. Ecosystems contain biotic or living, parts, as well as a biotic factors, or nonliving parts. Biotic factors include plants, animals, and other organisms.Abiotic factors include rocks, temperature, and humidity.

  22. Social Work Practice From an Ecological Perspective

    Applying ecology to. human beings in social work practice settings involves holding a perspective that humans. interact with their physical, social, and cultural environments. Physical ...

  23. A Review of Social-Ecological System Research and Geographical ...

    This paper reviews the exploration and application of social-ecological systems research perspectives to sustainable development issues such as the areas of coupled human-earth relations, resource management, geographical landscape patterns, system dynamics, and the relationship between ecosystem services and human well-being, and summarizes practical approaches and applied techniques for ...