With the rapid development of developmental psychology, researchers tried to formulate a universal definition of age to offer some developmental patterns for individuals regardless of their environment. However, nowadays, a variety of age conceptions exist, which are differentiated in terms of cultural and social background that might distort the perception of biological age. Some scholars claim Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory to human development is the principal approach to defining psychological age. His theory is based on the assumption that various aspects of the environment directly affect social development and individual age definition (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). In terms of the following paper, the aforementioned approach, along with the social learning theory, will be applied to analyze my human development process at the age of fourteen.
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory
The ecological frame of the microsystem is supposed to examine the human setting and closest surroundings. At the age of fourteen, my family consisted of a 40-year-old mother and a 7-year-old sister. The father left the family at the time, and we all were going through some hardship due to that fact. Speaking of school, I used to be a 10th-grade student with dedicated and open-minded teachers who encouraged me to study and broaden my horizons. However, under the circumstances, the school could no longer remain a part of my life due to the family’s financial struggles. The process of communication with peers at the time was also distorted because of my moral obligation to sustain my family. As a result, I became entirely detached from my high school community. People I was talking to daily at the time were quite diverse, as I worked with individuals of different ages, social, and ethnic groups.
According to Lally & Valentine-French (2019), the second level of Bronfenbrenner’s theory correlates with microsystem constituents being examined in the larger context of educational/working institutions. As was mentioned above, my whole environment at the age of 14 was unlike the style of living of my peers. Bearing in mind my intention to provide financial support for the family and handle the consequences of leaving school, my mother at the time did not communicate with school institutions; neither did she help with my work. Although I had a good school record before leaving, there was still no parental intervention in terms of communication with school and encouragement to study. Speaking of community support, there was not much public approval for a 14-year-old school dropout, as people were convinced there was no other option for me than to graduate. Hence, I was feeling rather isolated in the context of my environment.
The notion of exosystem implies the description of a broader context of the community. Being a 14-year-old kid, I was supposed to be financially dependent on my parents, but the situation in my family did not let me find enough support. My mother was a homemaker who never was employed, and my father, who was alcohol-dependent at the time, left the family. Since I was the provider of financial support for the family, there was no opportunity to go on vacations and spend money on any kind of entertainment.
This aspect of the developmental ecosystem considers the social and cultural background of the individuals. When I was fourteen years old, it was 1977 in New York that symbolized the thrive of the Disco Era and Studio 54, which had a crucial impact on my social development. In the global context, the late 70s was the era of popular culture genesis and social riots worldwide. Thus, I was quite affected by the instability of the labor market, which undermined my personal and professional growth ambitions. When it comes to religious affiliation, the Protestant Church’s dogmas did not affect me, as I did not consider myself a highly spiritual person. Furthermore, being white in the late 70s in NYC gave me an explicit privilege in terms of labor opportunities and social environment. Hence, ethnic affiliation has dramatically influenced the patterns of my development at a relatively young age.
The aspect of chronosystem is focused on the historical context of the human development stages. In 1977, the global culture impacted the historical development of the whole world. At the time, anti-racist and emancipation movements emerged, which later caused economic and political changes in the United States. Moreover, people became widely affected by the emergence of movie and musical culture. The mass culture that shaped the youth’s perception of life has encouraged me to become a part of the tendency, so I started drinking at the time. The historical background has also led to the formation of my perception of diversity and human freedom.
Social Learning Theory
Another important theory, which explicitly describes one’s development, is called social learning theory developed by Albert Bandura in 1977 (Lally & Valentine-French, 2019). The major concept of this approach claims that people behave consequently to imitate the behavioral patterns of their social environment. In the examples of childhood development, when kids copy the behavior of their parents to act older, such a behavioral pattern could be noticed vividly. In my case, the parental model, especially one of my fathers, may have significantly influenced the way I behaved in time of childhood when I wanted to experience independence and did some illegal actions like drinking. Moreover, my surroundings were quite different from those of my peers, as I was forced to socialize with older people and copy their behavioral patterns to blend in.
Lally, M., & Valentine-French, S. (2019). Lifespan development: a psychological perspective (2nd ed.). Creative Commons.