Bioecological model differs from others in that it charts and describes the development of the human and the group over the spectrum of the life course, through successive generations both past and present.
The model consists of four principal components and the prime dynamic, interactive element that guides them. The four processes are:
the forms of interaction between organism and environment, usually called 'proximal processes that due to interaction between organism and environment effect human development
Persons -- the individual who is effected by the processes (proximal process)
the environment (socio-geo-historical etc.) in which the proximal processes occur and impact
Time -- the period in which the proximal processes occur.
Characteristics of the person can shape the proximal process and there are three key typologies that are actually predominant. These are:
Dispositions -- these set the processes in motion in a particular direction and sustain their trajectory
2. Resources -- consisting of ability, experience, knowledge and skills that help facilitate and operate the proximal processes at a specific stage of development
3. Demand -- these characteristics stimulate or impede reactions from the social environment that can encourage growth of or disrupt operation of proximal processes.
These above-mentioned qualities of the person indirectly shape all of his macro and micro influences, for instance, as in the micro system shaping the characteristics of his friends, colleagues and those who he interacts with as well as influencing his interaction between teachers, parents and so forth through the course of his developmental history.
There are also proximal processes that involve interactions with objects not just with people, and there is also the element of chaos, instability, and unpredictability that also steps into the development ecological history of the human.
This is where the dimension of Time steps in with its three sub-units of occurrences at three levels:
1. Micro time - that refers to continuity in the system of proximal processes (as opposed to discontinuity)
2. Mesotime - the proximal processes occurring over broader intervals such as days and weeks
3. Macrotime -- changing social events in the society surrounding the human over larger period of time, which impact human development over the life course.
All of these issues necessarily affect the human (and in turn his development) both during the present and extending into the future. It is in this way that bioecology can discuss the future of the human even though at present unknown.
Finally, Bronfenbrenner (2006) proposes three maxims that define and guide the theory as a whole:
1. Development is used to refer to stability and change of the human not only over the life course but also over generations. This is in distinction to other developmental theories that simply chart the development trajectory of the human being alone
2. The forces producing stability and change in various individuals over successive generations are no less important that those producing stability and change in the development of one individuals during the course of his or her life time
3. The bioecological model is practical in that it can be applied to predictability and to helping the individual affect optimal performance via understanding of its constructs (Bronfenbrenner, 2006)
An individual's development, knowledge and experience, both psychological, cognitive, and emotional comes through observing the way others in his environment act and to modeling them.
Social-cognitive theory emerged from the social learning theory first proposed by Miller and Dillard in 1941 who said that, given that one were motivated to acquiring a certain behavior, that behavior could be acquired through observation and modeling. Acquisition of the behavior would then be reinforced by a cycle of reiterated performance (i.e. habit) and rewarded by positive reinforcement. Theorists Albert Bandura and Walter Mischel expanded on the theory.
Social cognitive theory emerged in an era that was shaped by and devoted to behaviorism, a model that opined that the individual was shaped by the environment and was essentially no different to an animal (more often rat) in that it was his sentinel part alone that influenced his behavior. Mentalism (i.e. thoughts / cognition) was excluded from the picture.
Social-cognitive theory (SCT) was, however, revolutionary in that it included cognition as a component and posited that whilst the environment was important in that people learned by modeling others, the modeling occurred via cognition in that individuals reflected on the behavior of others, selected and reviewed their conduct and simulation. In this way, both integers -- environment and cognition - played a part in forming the development of the human being. Development of the human actually consisted of three factors, none more important than the other and all integral in shaping the human. These were environment, behavior, and cognition each of which are reciprocal in that witnessed behavior may change a person's thinking about something, whilst environment (i.e. that in which one is raised, or that in which one experiences circumstances) influences later behaviors, just as the person's cognition, in turn, effects not only his own consequent behavior but also that of his contacts, notably his children.
Other constructs intrinsic to the SCT theory are emotional coping responses that refer to the strategies or tools used by a person in order to deal with emotional stimuli, as well as reciprocal determinism which is the dynamic interaction between person, behavior, and environment all of which has a rebounding and operable effect upon the other (McAlister, Perry, & Parcel, 2008)
Information processing theory
Based on a computer model, information processing theory suggests that humans process the information that they receive -- reflecting, selecting, and retrieving, rather than simply responding like a Skinnerian rat to environmental stimuli.
The mental machinery includes mechanisms such as working memory that actively works on the information, short-term memory that holds it for only a short time, and long-term memory that retrieves that which it considers important for longer.
The brain - plastic -- is malleable at first, maturing later on leading to enhanced capability in acquiring and retaining information. At the same time, however, the brain can be corroded and corrupted by illnesses, and physiological conditions. It is also limited in that it is embedded -- i.e. constructed by the environment that it grows up in, therefore thinking and interpretation phenomena in a certain limited manner, aside from which it is 'embodied', namely limited by certain heuristics, i.e. ways of thinking (such s my-confirmation, namely inability to accept that which goes contra to one's beliefs) and other biases.
Neuroplasticity, one of the most recent of neural insights, posits, contrary to the perspective of Piaget, that the brain has options of continuously maturing and learning and relearning new substances. New habits may be learned and destroyed during the course of human development.
Cognitive apparatus includes recognition, perception, memory, reasoning, cognition, imagining, judgment and decision-making, language acquisition, visual perception, auditory perception, memory, storage, perception, conceptualizing, planning and so forth. These are schematized in the brain via processes such as mind-maps, mental models, symbols, language data, thought etc.
The four pillars of the information-processing model are:
1. Thinking -- where external stimuli is integrated with internal reflection
2. Analysis of stimuli - where the stimuli integrated in the brain is then analyzed, strategized, generalized and automastized into consequent results (i.e. actions or verbal articulation or further reflection or erosion)
3. Situational modification - where the individual uses his stored experience to shape consequent experiences
4. Obstacle evaluation -- where the individual attempts as best as possible to evaluate a certain problem. Confusion may, sometimes creep in and obfuscate reasoning.
The information-processing model works according to three constructs:
1. Sensory register - the sensory register is the short-term storehouse that holds external and internal stimuli. Rapid unconscious reflection decides whether to retain or trash the data
2. Short-term / working memory - This is like the central processing unit of a computer that is only able to hold a certain amount of datum for a certain period of time. The room for the collection of datum expands as the child matures until, at approximaltey15 years old, the capacity reaches its maximum level. This enables increased speed of processing leveraging the rate and memory with which individuals can process and operate information -- involving tasks.
3. Long-term memory -- The 'storage' of a data that a person remembers for longer periods of time, sometimes over his or her lifetime (such s his name and so forth); they are there in the memory ready to be pulled out when required for use. There is explicit and implicit memory system. Explicit - that which we know about; implicit - that which is covert and shapes behavior (such as enculturation) (Miller, 2003)..
The brain, even as computer, is however not distinct from environment. One's social culture greatly impacts the way that one encodes, decodes and interprets incoming data (Miller, 2011). Nature (in the shape of the brain-compute) and nurture work together.
Bioecological theory & mental health treatment of children
Although relatively new, several interested personnel (such as researchers, social scientists, people…