Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory and Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory


Life experience plays an integral part in the process of transforming the stage of childhood to adulthood. Maturity is one of the most important outcomes or by-products of life experience. It demands and nourishes certain needs in an individual like psychological needs that help them to improve and develop their personality. These needs cluster into several developmental theories made by different psychologists and scholars. Some of these theories are Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory and Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory. Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory was developed by Uric Bronfenbrenner to expound or define the different implicit characters and aspects of children that enhance and mature when it merges and connects with the environment. The theory is called the "Ecological System" because it helps to examine the different and diversified character traits of children. As per the theory, children entangle into various challenging situations or environments (social and cultural society) which is comparatively wider than the visceral environment.

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory consists of five different standards of extrinsic significance in its model. They are; Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exo-system, Macro-system, Chronosystem. Each standard defines different aspects and situations that children go through.  Life experience is a vital and hard stage that every child has to grapple firmly (Soyer, 2019). One of my hard and upsetting life experiences was when I moved into a new house across the town. Starting from neighbors, friends and other kinds of stuff everything was new for me. I was six years old and was new in the town and I used to feel very lonely. Several psychological needs were lacking in me and I was not sure how to cope up with it. As per Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory, its standards are classified below with my own life experience:

  1. Microsystem- Microsystem is also known as the direct surrounding or the environment because it is the smallest standard where the children directly spend time with their friends and communicate with other people in the locality, school, and home. This communication helps in the growth and development of the mentality of the children. The micro system also helps in nourishing the character traits which in turn improves and signifies various natural and hereditary traits in a child. The micro system determines the communication between every child and their friends, teachers, neighbors, and relatives according to which it classifies the character and nature of the child. In my case, as I was new in the locality my neighbors and their children were not so friendly with me and my parents and some of my neighbors didn't even like us. That is why the environment was not at all nurturing for me and it was very upsetting for my parents. But, my mother was my most attached person and she helped to overcome the situation.
  2. Mesosystem- Mesosystem is mainly a linkage or a connection that every child has with their friends, teachers, relatives, neighbors in society. Mesosystem is the second standard that comes after the micro system (Bouchard, & Smith, 2017). After communication between every individual, they must feel the connection between them. It works for the parents as they must be friendly with their children. This will be beneficial for the children as they will have a positively grown attitude and will have a sound mind. When I moved into my new home I didn't have any friends but gradually my neighbors became friendly with me and I had a connection with them and I suddenly started feeling positive. My parents were very happy for me and they were so friendly to me and my friends.
  3. Exo-system- Exo-system is the third standard which is the indirect surrounding that may or may not have a connection with the development of children's personality development (Mulisa, 2019). If the micro system and ecosystem relate the positive attitude and character of the children then the exo-system doesn't affect their personality development. But, if both micro system and mesosystem relate to the negative attitude and character of the children then the exo-system also results in negative mentality development. In my case, at the beginning of the mesosystem, I made a connection with my friends and I also had a deep linkage with one of my friends who became my best friend. Therefore, I didn’t have any negative personality development.
  4. Macro-system- Macro-system is the fourth and most vital standard as it includes the link between the cultural and social aspects of the children. It focuses on the standard of values that the children believe. For example; if a child is from any war-zone territory then that child will have a tough mentality development but if a child is from any accord or harmonized region will have a soft and reconciled mentality development. I was always from a harmonized region that is why I always had a reconciled mentality development but I also used to think and take decisions practically from my childhood and I was always treated positively by everyone. Moving to my new homemade I feel alone for a while but after I had a connection with my friends and my neighbors I started gaining a positive attitude and behavior.
  5. Chronosystem- As per Bronfenbrenner’s study Chronosystem is the final standard that signifies and determines the changes that every child pursues while developing their personality with time (Mulisa, 2019). It also determines the steadiness and dependability of the children. For example, if a child is continuously bullied by other children (whether in school or locality) that will imprint a negative personality development for that child. But, if the children stop bullying each other and build a peaceful friendship bond among them then it will be good for everyone as they will gain positive and healthy personality development. When I moved to my new home I used to get bullied by other children of the locality. As we all were kids so when I used to go to the park and wanted to play with them they used to bully me and embarrass me in front of everyone. I used to feel so lonely and they used to bully me regarding my physical appearance and my clothes. It happened for one month and then gradually they started to be my friends and some of them even apologized to me for whatever they have said to me. So, I never did have a negative personality development.

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory

On the other hand, Erikson's Psychosocial Theory was founded by Erik Erikson to understand and develop the personality of every individual. It determines various psychological needs that make an individual consistent in society (Cross, & Cross, 2017). It marks every trait and psychological needs in an individual (from a toddler to old age). Erikson's Psychosocial Theory consists of eight different aspects that improvise every psychological half of an individual which helps in developing the personality of the individual. This theory has its casualties which can be both definite and indefinite (depending on the situation and on the individual itself). Each aspect has its ethics and values, which are;

ASPECT 1: Trustworthy against mistrust – Hope (Age limit- 0 to 1.5 years) – It focuses on the newborn babies who barely know about the world in which they exist. They only have one hope and they only trust one person that is the person who gave them birth, their mother. If they sense that the care provided by their mother is uncertain and suspicious then they must not feel trustworthy and emotion of mistrust might grow between them.

ASPECT 2: Sovereignty against disgrace – Fortitude or stubbornness (Age limit- 1.5 to 3 years) – At this stage, a child becomes more stubborn and starts to find out their skills and ability that will give them the will power to exist in the world. At this stage, the children start taking their own decisions independently.

ASPECT 3: Leadership against stigma – Ambition (Age limit- 3 to 5 years) – According to Erik Erikson this aspect helps the children to become more ambitious and it also helps them to develop psychologically in a society (Çelik, & Ergün, 2016). They start becoming more ambitious about their life and career and if the personality develops in a positive way they end up having a good leadership quality among them.

ASPECT 4: Industry against inadequacy – Knowledge, and ability (Age limit- 5 to 12 years) – At this standard of life the children start gaining more knowledge and become proficient in their skills and understand the ability to perform adequate work. On the other hand, if the child is judged or gets bullied at this phase they might feel guilty which in turn can grow negative development. My life experience falls in this phase of time.

ASPECT 5: Existence against dilemma – Dedication and faithful (Age limit- 12 to 18 years) – At this phase of life children start growing physically as well as mentally and start becoming adults (Osewska, 2017). At this time the most important aspect is self-esteem, if the self-esteem is low then the children will have a dilemma about their existence and their dedication. But, if the self-esteem is high then the children will be sure about their existence and will be dedicated and faithful with their life.

ASPECT 6: Affection against desolation – Love and understanding (Age limit- 18 to 40 years) – At this phase people are surrounded by affection and look out for relationships that will have passion, promise, and fidelity. They look out for a relationship where both the partners will be trustworthy and understanding.

ASPECT 7: Imaginative against inactivity – Love and responsibility (Age limit- 40 to 65 years) – According to Erikson's theory, this phase is the most important and beautiful because it depicts on the relationship development among the partners which is bounded with responsibility, love, understanding, fidelity, and most importantly care. 

ASPECT 8: Ego-honor against sorrow – Expertise knowledge (Age limit- 65 and above) – The final phase of life is the old age as it examines the ego-honor or the level of wisdom that a person has. If the person has gained and received maximum profits and property and has done everything in life then the person shall die with honor (Verma, 2018).


In conclusion, aspect 5 resemblance with my age and period. When I moved to my new home across the town I was six years old. At the beginning of the period, I used to get bullied, was embarrassed in front of everyone, felt guilty, and was losing my self-control and self-esteem. But gradually, I became friends with them and made a connection with them. This helped me to gain back my self-esteem and also helped me to know my skills and abilities. All this time my mother was always beside me and she was my attached person who supported me throughout the period. This experience changed my life in many ways.


Bouchard, K. L., & Smith, J. D. (2017, January). Teacher–student relationship quality and children's bullying experiences with peers: Reflecting on the mesosystem. In The Educational Forum (Vol. 81, No. 1, pp. 108-125). Routledge.

Çelik, B., & Ergün, E. (2016). An integrated approach of Erikson’s psychosocial theory and adlerian counseling. The International Journal of Human and Behavioral Science, 2(1), 20-26.

Cross, T. L., & Cross, J. R. (2017). Maximizing potential: A school-based conception of psychosocial development. High Ability Studies, 28(1), 43-58.

Mulisa, F. (2019). Application of bioecological systems theory to higher education: Best evidence review. Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology, 1(2), 104-115.

Osewska, E. (2017). The Involvement of the Lay Faithful in Consecratio Mundi. The Person and the Challenges. The Journal of Theology, Education, Canon Law and Social Studies Inspired by Pope John Paul II, 7(2), 81-92.

Soyer, G. F. (2019). Urie Bronfenbrenner: The Ecology of Human Development Book Review. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 2(2), 77-80.

Verma, N. (2018). Ageing and Mental Health: A Psychological Aspect of Later Life. In Handbook of Research on Geriatric Health, Treatment, and Care (pp. 369-392). IGI Global.0


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