Brofenbrenner’s Biological Model of Human Development

Brofenbrenner’s Biological Model of Human Development

Brofenbrenner’s Bioecological Model of Human Development focuses on the impact that environment, in addition to biology, has on an individual’s development.

“Before Bronfenbrenner, developmental psychology focused on individual influences on development in unnatural settings. Bronfenbrenner changed developmental psychology by calling attention to the large number of environmental influences on child development; from the people and institutions immediately surrounding a person to nation-wide cultural forces.

“It can be said that much of contemporary developmental psychology is the science of the strange behaviour of children in strange situations with strange adults for the briefest possible periods of time”  -Urie Bronfenbrenner, 1977

 Brofenbrenner’s P-P-C-T Model

Process – Person – Context- Time

The Process: The interactions between an individual and her environment

The Person: The student and his biological characteristics (including age, gender, appearance, intelligence, skills, perseverance, etc)

Context and Time: Bronfenbrenner created five “systems” to categorize influences on development. These are:

  1. Microsystem: The microsystem is the innermost layer of Bronfenbrenner’s model. This context is closest to an individual and encompasses interpersonal relationships and direct interactions with immediate surroundings.For example, family members and a child’s school are considered part of the microsystem.
  2. Mesosystem: The mesosystem includes interactions between various aspects of the microsystem. A relationship between a child’s family and the child’s school can be considered part of the mesosystem, because these two direct influences (parts of the microsystem) may interact.
  3. Exosystem: The exosystem does not directly affect individuals; rather, the exosystem encompasses aspects of structures within the microsystem.For example, financial difficulties within the family of origin, parental job loss, and so forth may affect a child, but do not involve the child directly.
  4. Macrosystem: The macrosystem is the outermost layer of Bronfenbrenner’s model. Bronfenbrenner suggested that individuals constantly interact with these systems. He also stated that both individuals and their environments constantly affect one another

By developing our understanding the environmental influences on development, JUMP! aims to create and facilitate programs that support positive individual and community development.



Bennet, Carson. “Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model of Development” Prezi Slideshow, 25 January 2014,

Bergen, D. (2008). Human development: traditional and contemporary theories. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. p. 220. ISBN 0131343971.Bronfenbrenners ModelBronfenbrenners Model

Bronfenbrenner, Urie & Morris P.A.; 200y6; “The Bioecological Model of Human Development”; Handbook of Child Psychology (pp.793-828).