What do you think is the strengths and weaknesses of the bio-ecological model proposed in Bronfenbrenner & Ceci's article 1994 ( Nature-nurture reconceptualized in developmental perspective:A...

What do you think is the strengths and weaknesses of the bio-ecological model proposed in Bronfenbrenner & Ceci's article 1994 ( Nature-nurture reconceptualized in developmental perspective:A bio-ecological model. Psychological Review). Is this a useful model?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The bio-ecological model proposed in "Nature-nurture re-conceptualized in developmental perspective: a bio ecological model" published by Psychological Review in 1994 makes complete sense, with the exception that Bronfenbrenner and Ceci have tried to cover so much that they missed out on a few variables that may affect the model. These variables are a) cultural background  b) ethnic implications  c) religious views. This is why.

The original model of ecological development was mainly socially-based. Bronfenbrenner originally proposed that all children, in order to be properly raised, should have needs met within every niche that he or she occupies as an individual and as a member of society at large. These niches (which Urie Bronfenbrenner illustrates as nests) are:

  • The microsystem- family, friends, peers, educators
  • The mesosystem- the combination of interactions between home and school and its effects.
  • The exosystem- the relationship and bond between offspring and parent at large
  • The macrosystem- socioeconomical status
  • The chronosystem- life-changing events

What Bronfenbrenner did it with Ceci is to add a biological component to the original moment and combine genetics into the mix. Thus, depending on our inherited traits, our personality will determine how we will interact with the support systems that are (or are not) available to help us develop as individuals. In Bronfenbrenner's words, something that is consonant with Allport's theory of Personality Development, genes

interact... with environmental experience in determining developmental outcomes.

The issue with this theory lies at the heart of the concept of inheritance. The Human Genome project even concluded that we do not have enough "strong" genes to support an entire theory based on nature (instead of nurture) that would defend the argument that we are all mainly biological "beasts". Moreover, the conclusion from Genome is that the only traits that we actually inherit are the bona-fide strongest ones, while we experience nearly 50 mutations in genes from generation to generation (Davies, 2001, NOVA). Therefore, while Bronfenbrenner is correct in adding "a" biological/genetic component to infuse nature to his nurture-based theory, there is still one glitch: where do culture and ethnicity fit?

Bronfenbrenner does not quite add the cultural and ethnic factor there. Surely it could be implied that, as part of the microsystem and exosystem, the exposure to our cultural interactions provides enough feedback for us to react to that particular environment. However, there is little evidence that shows that Bronfenbrenner based his new model on research conducted particularly out of other research that was done on cultural inheritance models.

Therefore, what would it mean to be Hispanic, or Asian, or African descent, or Irish, or Armenian...under the context of the new bioecological model? How would a Mexican respond differently from a Cuban, when they are extreme opposites regardless of the fact that they are both Hispanic? How would a Korean respond differently from a Japanese person? Are we still making social assumptions when it comes to research?

That is the basic argument from the bio-ecological model, but it is a good argument because hardly any researchers in social sciences has taken the time to tackle variables within one same ethnic group or cultural group unless the researcher is part of that group.