Psychology. Ecological System Theory


Literatures in early childhood are on the increasing end due to the early experiences and recognition of theories supporting human development. With the contribution of these theories, people came to recognize the importance of gender, adult and childhood in improving levels and eminence of education system. The contemporary society has employed many inclusive forecast and strategies aimed at improving early childhood awareness and education. However, it is important to note that there are several obstacles that impede access and delivery of superiority services to children especially during their early stages of life. The purpose of this paper is to examine account of theorist Urie Bronfenbrenner and how his theory has extensively contributed to the understanding of early childhood development and education.

Background of Urie Bronfenbrenner

Urie Bronfenbrenner was born in April 1917 in the Soviet Union and later moved to America where he developed himself as one of the most notable American developmental psychologists. Throughout his work, Urie Bronfenbrenner left many records in place as exhibited by his ecological systems theory that explains the process of child development (Bronfenbrenner 16). After World War II, he worked in several institutions in Washington D.C; thereafter, he moved to Cornel University where his research centrally focused on social factors that influence child development. Throughout his scientific work, Bronfenbrenner is largely recognized for his contribution in the formulation of Head Start Program in United States in 1965. As a psychologist and a graduate from Michigan University, his ideologies and contributions were elemental in the construction of developmental theories in psychology and the factors that influence growth and development in children.

Ecological system theory of development

This theory is commonly known as the human ecology theory. It states that human development is appreciably influenced by the environmental systems. Urie Bronfenbrenner formulated this theory in attempts to widen understandings on why people behave differently due to environmental change. According to Bronfenbrenner, there are five imperative systems that deeply influence human behavior, namely, microsystem, macrosystem, mesosystem, the chronosystem, and the exosystem.

To begin with, microsystem constitutes the immediate environment that people have in their lives. Such environment includes the family, classmates, friends, neighbors, and all other people that directly interact with an individual. This represents the social interaction stage because of these social agents (Berns and Roberta 13). The theory states that not only do people become recipients in the social environments, but they also contribute to the development of such environment. The more fruitful and fostering these relationships bring to the child, the better the growth. Furthermore, genetic and biological factors of a child influence personality traits and this determines how others will treat the child in return.

Secondly, the mesosystem stage highlights how the mesosystem variables relate with one’s life. In other words, it is possible that family experiences manipulate one’s personal experiences at school and other places. For example, if a child feels so neglected at home, they may develop negative attitude towards teachers and classmates, and in so doing, the child plunges in state of isolation to signify withdrawal from the cloud of classmates.

The exosystem highlights a case where a person does not actively participate and interact with others but still imposes an immense influence on the person. For example, the extended family members, parents’ workplace. For instance, work promotion given to the parents drastically influences how the child behaves because the parents sufficiently provide physical needs to the child.

The last stage of development according to ecological theory is the macrosystem stage. This stage represents the largest and secluded group of people that influence growth and development in children. Factors such as cultural values, wars, economy, and human rights make up the macrosystem variables. Consequently, government policies that guarantee a child’s right may pose either positive or negative impacts depending on the influence of such policies on the behavior of the child.

The last stage is chronosystem which includes all shifts and transitions that an individual goes through in their lifespan. Such factors like socio-historical contexts influence growth and development in a person (Bronfenbrenner 30). To illustrate this, divorce cases serve as a classic example because they not only affect the couple’s affiliation, but also manners of the children. Children are the most affected by divorce cases especially during the first year of divorce.

How Urie Bronfenbrenner influenced early childhood education

Bronfenbrenner remains one of the most critical psychologists who contributed to the developmental theories used in early childhood education today. He was critical in explaining how the interpersonal relationships affected development of a child (Mancini, Jay, and Karen 45). Furthermore, he made the sociologists realize how social structures, economics and political environment control child development. Through his theory, several developmental studies, explanations, and experiments have been conducted as away to determine the weight of environmental variables on human development. For example, his scientific work and ideas were elemental to the formation of Head Start Program. He contributed to Head Start Program through his proposal on poverty management policies. In Head Start program, Bronfenbrenner emphasize on the importance of child-care programs, in that way, achieving equal educational services to all children. Particularly, ecological theory has influenced the manner in which many psychologists examine and analyze an individual and the environmental factors that influence human growth. Since its publication in 1979, the ecological theory became a foundation that many psychologists based their arguments upon.


In summary, ecological system theory by Urie Bronfenbrenner has extensively contributed to the development of many developmental researches and observations necessary in improving the quality of early childhood education and learning. Through his work, many sociologists came to realize the importance of interpersonal relationships and environmental variables on a child’s development.

Works cited

Berns, Roberta. Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004. Print.

Bronfenbrenner, Urie. Making Human Beings Human: Bioecological Perspectives on Human Development. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005. Print

Mancini, Jay A, and Karen A. Roberto. Pathways of Human Development: Explorations of Change. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2009. Print.

Video Voice-over

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2023, August 18). Psychology. Ecological System Theory. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2023, August 18). Psychology. Ecological System Theory.

Work Cited

"Psychology. Ecological System Theory." PsychologyWriting, 18 Aug. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Psychology. Ecological System Theory'. 18 August.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Psychology. Ecological System Theory." August 18, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Psychology. Ecological System Theory." August 18, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Psychology. Ecological System Theory." August 18, 2023.