Ecological Perspective of Developmental Psychology

Ecological Perspective  or The contextual perspective considers the relationship between individuals and their physical, cognitive, personality, and social worlds.

For example-  In ecological perspective, being overweight is caused by various interrelated factors like person’s physical, personality, emotions, cognitive, and social worlds

It is also known as The Contextual Perspective- two important developmentalist 

  1. Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory
  2. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological systems theory

1. Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory

Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, focuses on how culture —the values, beliefs, customs, and skills of a social group—is transmitted to the next generation. According to Vygotsky, social interaction —in particular, cooperative dialogues between children and more knowledgeable members of society—is necessary for children to acquire the ways of thinking and behaving that make up a community’s culture.

Vygotsky focused on Child’s Cognitive Development and agreed Jean Piaget’s stand on children are active, constructive beings. But he viewed cognitive development as a socially mediated process, where children depend on assistance from adults and more expert peers as they tackle new challenges.

Zone of proximal development-   the difference between a child’s actual level of ability and the level of ability that he or she can achieve when assisted by, or working in cooperation with, older or more experienced partners (e.g., adults or more knowledgeable peers). It refers to a range of tasks that the child cannot yet handle alone but can do with the help of more skilled partners.

Scaffolding—the form of teaching which promotes learning at all age. For example- The adult picks a task that the child can master but that is challenging enough that the child cannot do it by herself. As the adult guides and supports, the child joins in the interaction and picks up mental strategies. As her competence increases, the adult steps back, permitting the child to take more responsibility for the task.

2. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological systems theory

According to Ecological systems theory, a child develop within a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment . Because the child’s biologically influenced dispositions join with environmental forces to mold development, It also known as a bioecological model (Bronfenbrenner, 2005; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006).

Bronfenbrenner said that the environment is a series of nested structures that form a complex functioning whole, or system. These include but also extend beyond the home, school, and neighborhood settings in which children spend their everyday lives  Each layer of the environment joins with the others to powerfully affect development. There are five levels.

Urie Bronfenbrenner's Ecological systems theory

Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological systems theory

  1. The Microsystem– Direct contact with child like parents, siblings, teachers and school peers.
  2. The Mesosystem– interactions between the child’s microsystems, for example, child’s parents and teachers,  school peers and siblings.
  3. The Exosystem-  formal & informal social structures, which do not themselves contain the child, but indirectly influence microsystem. for example,  Media, religious institutions, neighborhood, parent’s workplaces, parent’s friends and the mass media.
  4. The Macrosystem-  cultural elements in child’s development; For example- poverty, values, laws, customs, and resources, socioeconomic status, wealth,  and ethnicity.
  5. The Chronosystem– all of the environmental changes that occur over the lifetime which influence development, including major life transitions, and historical events. for example- starting school, moving to new house, etc

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