Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory | Bowlby-Ainsworth Attachment Theory
Psychological, psychosocial, and physical developments happen because of various experiences that people face throughout their entire life. Life experience helps people to transform in every single stage of life starting from infant up to old age via adolescence. Life experience also carries out various outcomes and results like wisdom, maturity, affections, will-power, etc. Maturity and wisdom are the main outcomes of life experience. Various psychologists and scholars evolve several psychological theories that explain the various changes that people go through their entire life. It also explains the psychological and psychosocial needs and attachments that are required for the development of the personality of a person. In this report, two of such theories will be explained and discussed with a connection to life experience.
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory
Bronfenbrenner's Ecological System Theory was developed and expanded by Urie Bronfenbrenner where he discussed various aspects of life that are required in every stage of life (Loh et al. 2020). Bronfenbrenner tried to expound this theory, especially for the children. This psychological theory is categorized into five levels, namely- Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exo-system, Macro-system, Chronosystem. Each level depicts a different aspect of life that is pivotal for the development and nourishment of the personality of a child. The levels of Bronfenbrenner's theory is discussed below:
MICROSYSTEM: Microsystem is the first and prime level in children's life because it is the stage where children happen to interact directly with other people like neighbours, friends, relatives, even parents. At this stage, children get in contact directly with the environment and start spending more time with the people surrounded. This level helps the child to grow its mentality and personality according to the environment. If the child is treated positively then the child will grow a positive mentality, but if the child is treated negatively then the mentality development will grow in a bad direction (Hamid et al. 2019). For example, if a child is bullied by its classmates in the school and everyone supports it then it will be harmful to the child's mentality and personality. Someone should always stand against bully because it affects the children not only mentally but also physically. On the other hand, if the child has a positive friend circle then is positively fulfils the aspects of personality development.
MESOSYSTEM: Mesosystem is the second level responsible for a child's mentality and personality development. Basically, the connection or linkage with the microsystem. At this stage, children must grow a possible connection with friends, teachers, locality, neighbours, and even with parents. Children must always feel a positive connection with friends and the parents must support it and must be frank and friendly with their kids (Soyer, 2019). The microsystem is all about interaction and communication but after communication, the connection falls in the second level because connection helps the children to grow a positive attitude, behaviour, and a calm and sound mindset. For, example a child must feel a connection with his friends and even with teachers so that it could be determined that who is good for the child itself.
EXO-SYSTEM: Exo-system is the indirect interaction that happens between the child and other people. Exo-system is an essential and third level in a child's life which mainly depicts the behaviour and attitude of children towards its family (McGregor et al. 2019). If the parents behave with a positive attitude then it is valuable for the psychological development of the children. For example, if the parents quarrel with each other but in front of their children, it can leave a negative impact on them indirectly. The parents must not quarrel or do any such activities in front of their children that will harm them mentally.
MACROSYSTEM: Macrosystem is a level that plays a vast role in the development and nourishment of personality because the macro-system includes aspects that work socially and culturally. As per Bronfenbrenner, this stage is meant to understand the personality development of the children based on places, religion, caste, etc. For example, a child who is born and brought up in Vietnam will have a different attitude than that of the one in California. The child from Vietnam will be more tough and practical because the child is born in a war zone. Whereas, the child from California will be calm and mature because of the pleasant area. Every child must respect every culture and become socialized so the mentality and personality develop positively.
CHRONOSYSTEM: Chronosystem is based on the fact "time changes people" but in this case, the fact could be modernized and the new one could be like "time changes personality". Chronosystem is the final level in Bronfenbrenner's theory which discussed the variations in personality that happens with the children with the change of time. It determines how much the child is dependable and practical in its life and it also determines the level of wisdom and maturity that the child has earned from life experiences. For example, a child can grow a negative or positive personality based on its circumstances and life experience.
Bowlby-Ainsworth Attachment Theory
Bowlby-Ainsworth Attachment Theory was evolved by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in 1969 where they discussed and explained the attachment between the children and other people (adults; especially mothers). According to Bowlby, babies had a universal attachment with their mothers which is a vital part of mentality development in the infants as well as the mothers. Therefore, Bowlby and Ainsworth classified the theory into four standards- Pre-attachment or Safe standard, Processing attachment or secure standard, Post-attachment standard, and Corresponding relationship or attachment standard. These standards are described in details below:
PRE-ATTACHMENT OR SAFE STANDARD: This standard happens when the mother (caregiver) interacts with her baby for the first time and attracts (smile, cry, eye contact with the baby) the baby (Gregory et al. 2020). At this stage, the baby finds and gets the scent and touch and face of the mother and also gets closure by the mother. As per Bowlby, the infants get comfortable with only one adult and that is its mother. It occurs from the birth of the baby until the age of 1 month.
PROCESSING ATTACHMENT OR SECURE STANDARD: At this level, the infant feels more secure with the mother and directly interacts with her more quickly than any other adult. During this level, the baby falls into sleep quickly in the mother's lap, jibber-jabbers with her, and becomes quite quickly because their attachment process goes on and the baby feels more secure. This attachment happens at the age of 1 month and lasts until the age of 8 months.
POST-ATTACHMENT STANDARD: As per Bowlby-Ainsworth's study, Post-attachment happens when the baby starts interacting with other people and the mother starts working by leaving the baby into the hands of other people. This increases the level of separation anxiety and the baby shouts and cries whenever it can't find its mother. But with enough care and love, this anxiety reduces and their attachment becomes healthier. This standard starts happening at the age of 8 months and continues until 2 years.
CORRESPONDING RELATIONSHIP OR ATTACHMENT STANDARD: This is the final level of Bowlby-Ainsworth's study where it discusses the sense of understanding that grows within the baby and concludes the process of separation anxiety and start becoming less dependable on the parents (especially on mother) (Verhage et al. 2020). The final step starts at the age of 2 years and continues all life.
My life experience is linked with both expounded psychological theories. I was born in a small and middle-class family with four members. I was always frank and well interacted with my mother. After my mother, if I'm frank that is with my brother. But, we have a huge age difference and he is eight years older than me. So, when I was 1 year of age my mother used to drop me to my grandparent's house and she used to take my brother to his guitar lessons every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They used to go to Asansol for the guitar lessons but as I was a baby my mother couldn't take me with her. I always used to cry and had separation anxiety. But, with adequate love and care from my mother, my father and my brother sense, or the anxiety for separation gradually decreased and I started to understand the situations psychologically. Moreover, during my developmental stage, I never got my brother with me because of his studies. He used to stay in overseas but I got my parents beside me. These situations made me matured and helped me to grow my mentality according to the circumstances. Therefore, my experience has a direct link with Bowlby-Ainsworth Attachment theory and kind of linked with Bronfenbrenner's Ecological System theory (Exo-system). I needed to get adequate love and care not only by my mother but also by my father and my brother which I got appropriately. I am blessed to have a mother and a brother like them because they never make me feel alone and always encouraged me. So, both of my direct and indirect environment was positive.
In conclusion, these psychological and psychosocial theories are evaluated by psychologists for the benefit and the nourishment of the personality. These theories are explained by the psychologists for the greater good and to determine the personality changes that happen throughout the entire life like from birth till death.
Loh, J.M., Robinson, K. and Muller-Townsend, K., 2020. Exploring the motivators and blockers in second year undergraduate students: an ecological system approach. The Australian Educational Researcher, pp.1-22.
Soyer, G.F., 2019. Urie Bronfenbrenner: The Ecology of Human Development Book Review. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 2(2), pp.77-80.
McGregor, C., Devaney, C. and Moran, L., 2019. A critical overview of the significance of power and power relations in practice with children in foster care: evidence from an Irish study. Child Care in Practice, pp.1-15.
Gregory, M., Kannis?Dymand, L. and Sharman, R., 2020. A review of attachment?based parenting interventions: Recent advances and future considerations. Australian Journal of Psychology, 72(2), pp.109-122.
Verhage, M.L., Schuengel, C., Duschinsky, R., van IJzendoorn, M.H., Fearon, R.P., Madigan, S., Roisman, G.I., Bakermans–Kranenburg, M.J., Oosterman, M. and Collaboration on Attachment Transmission Synthesis, 2020. The Collaboration on Attachment Transmission Synthesis (CATS): A Move to the Level of Individual-Participant-Data Meta-Analysis. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 29(2), pp.199-206.
Hamid, N.H., Ahmad, A.R.B. and Awang, M.M., 2019, October. Social Environmental Support Towards Leisure Time Activities Among Multi-Ethnic Youth in Malaysia. In The 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Development and Multi-Ethnic Society (pp. 300-302). Redwhite Pres.