Ecological Systems Theory By Bronfenbrenner

Ecological system theory is also called Human Ecological Theory, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. Ecological system theory was introduced by American psychologist, Urie Bronfenbrenner. He claimed that the child development is affected by their surrounding environment.

Read more about Urie Bronfenbrenner Biography.

Child development can be divided into many areas of physical, mental, cognitive, moral and social.  The environment, in which the child influences, is called ecological system.

What is Ecological System?

Basically, Ecological system theory is based on observation. In this theory, Urie Bronfenbrenner understands and explained the child’s development. He went to the children’s daily lives, home, schools for studying their behaviours and actions. He was also taking part in their friend’s club and groups.

Environmental effect on child’s development

According to Urie Bronfenbrenner, child’s development is influenced by the different environmental systems. The ecological system theory describes the difference in behaviour of the child in different environments and how the environment influences their development and grows up the child into an adult. Bronfenbrenner divides the environment into 5 different levels.

  1. Microsystem
  2. Mesosystem
  3. Exosystem
  4. Macrosystem
  5. Chronosystem

Also Read: Ideas About How Children Grow and Develop

Now we’ll discuss these Bronfenbrenner Models in detail.


The first level of Bronfenbrenner is Microsystem. The microsystem is one of the most influential levels of the ecological systems theory. In the Microsystem, the child has direct contact system or closest proximity to home, school, daycare, peer group, community environment of the child.

Interactions within the Microsystem, the child involves a personal relationship with family members, teacher, play area friends, classmate, and caregivers.

Now the point is that how the children affected by surroundings?

Bronfenbrenner explained that how these individuals or groups interact with a child will definitely affect how the child grows. Likewise, how the child reacts to the people will affect how they treat the child in return. Physical development starts in the Microsystem like practicing pencil grip. Language development, in which vocabulary growth will increase. Social development and self-esteem, which develop in playgroup.

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Also Read: Insight Learning

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Mesosystem is the next ecological system, in which the mesosystem consists of the interactions between the different parts of microsystem of person.

Interconnections between the microsystems, the interaction between parent and child’s peer, the interaction between family and teacher. These interactions have a positive impact on child’s development because many elements of microsystem are working together and the elements have an indirect impact on the child’s development. And these interactions also influence upon one another.

For example, if family dislikes his/her child’s peer, claimed it openly and criticize them every time. Moreover, parents neglect their child; they may have low chance to develop their positive attitude toward others. The child may experience conflicting emotions.

Similarly, if parents like their child’s peer and invite them at home spent some time. The child will develop a positive attitude.Child development topic is written in many Books By Urie Bronfenbrenner.


Exosystem is the third model of the ecological system theory. Involves link between a social setting in which the individual does not involve as an active participant but still affect them indirectly like parent’s workplace and school management. For example:

If a child is more attached to his/her father. And his/her father has promotion and need to move another city. a child being affected by a parent receiving a promotion at work or losing their job.

In the scene of promotion, the child may be anxious when can’t see his father every night and may be facing some conflict due to less attachment to mother. The child anxiety has an effect on his development in other areas, even though he has no interaction with his father’s work.


This system involves the culture in which individual lives. It contains the child’s culture and values. Macrosystem is the largest distant group of people and place to the child that still work a significant influence on the child. poverty, cultural values, the role of women in society, a wealth of the country, the role of religion in society, socioeconomic status, all of these are the cultural factors that influence the development.

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For example: If a child lives in a country that does not value education for girls. Girls can’t get the education, can’t do the job, can’t go outside, can’t do any social work. In this situation, the child can’t solve problems; her cognitive development will be affected. If the society doesn’t permit the child (girl) to play outside with her own age children, then social development may be negatively affected. Culture is also the part of our environment so it also affects the child’s development.


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The chronosystem adds the useful element of time, which indicates the influence of both change and constancy in the child’s environment. The chronosystem may include a change in family structure, parent’s employment status, address and other factors that influence the child development.

By the study of a different factor that may influence a child, the Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory is able to introduce the many interrelated influences on the child’s development.

For example, divorces are one factor, divorce affects the couple relationship but also affect the behaviour of the child. In the first year after the divorce, the child affects negatively. The child may feel the insecurity that affects a child’s development.


This article now helps you to recognize how environment impact, influence and shape the child development. Don’t forget to share your own child’s developments that you noticed in your daily life.

I'm Alana Wade, a psychologist with over five years of experience working with relationships. I've dedicated my career to helping couples and families create lasting, meaningful connections.

One comment

  1. This article provides a comprehensive description of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. It is very interesting and informative, and clearly explains the five main components of his model. This is a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about this influential psychosocial theory. Highly recommended!

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