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Ecological Systems Theory

The Ecological Systems Model is a theory developed by German psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner. Bronfenbrenner viewed the developing person as existing within a number of overlapping systems. People participate or are influenced by all of these systems in some way.

The five environmental systems are as follows:¹

Level 1: The Micro System

This includes people and their relationships with those in their immediate surroundings. This includes family, friends, teachers and peers.

Level 2: The Meso System

The meso system includes direct connections between immediate environments within the micro system.

Level 3: The Exo System

The exo system includes the settings that one might not directly experience but remains
influenced by.

Level 4: Macro System

The macro system is comprised of the larger social constructs that shape one's environment in less direct ways.

Level 5: The Chrono system

The chrono system encompasses the historical changes that influenced development and those systems surround people. It also refers to the ways in which people take a greater role in the course of development as they age.

Bronfenbrenner published the Ecological Systems Theory in 1979 and since then it has influenced many psychologists in understanding how children interact and are influenced by the environments they encounter.


1. Carlson, Neil R., Buskist, W., Heth, C.D, Schmaltz, R. Psychology - The Science of Behaviour.

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