Contribution between reinforcements and performance, scientists in other social

Contribution to the Nature
Nurture Debate -65.% unique lol lol lol

was also among the first theoreticians to underscore the need to take into
account both the complex, reciprocal and subtle interactions among each
individual’s biological and personal characteristics and also the significant
social and ecological contexts that influence development (Rosa & Tudge,
2013). In addition, he identified the intricate interrelations between person,
process, context, and time, arguing that more important than the various
ecological systems per se, are the transactions and synergies among them.

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understanding contributed greatly to the enduring “nature-nurture” controversy
over human development (Sameroff, 2010). 
Before 1970, the main concerns of many researchers in the field of human
development was to discover the extent of nature and nurture’s specific
influences. The 1980’s however saw the nurturist shift, induced by three
advances in the social science – the war on poverty, the concept of a social
ecology, and cultural deconstruction. Where behaviourist research focused on
proximal connections between reinforcements and performance, scientists in
other social disciplines were arguing that economic circumstance was a major
constraint on the availability of reinforcements, such that the developmental
environments of the poor were deprived in contrast with those of the affluent. Bronfenbrenner
(1977) offered a more differentiated model than provided by economics alone. He
identified the distal influences of family, school, work, and culture, providing
a more comprehensive empirical model for predicting individual differences in
development. The emphasis here was on studying how people accommodate
throughout their lives to the changing environments where they grow and live
(Clarke-Steward et al., 1985).  His
contextual model delineated the ways in which dimensions of experience can
augment or constrain human development. Although we may have a strong desire
for straightforward explanations of life, Bronfenbrenner understood that development
is complicated and models for explaining it need to be complicated enough to
usefully inform our understanding. 



of the most enduring contributions this bioecological model has made to the
developmental field is the consideration that the human life span is marked by
the presence of relative plasticity and that this element of change is
imperative to understanding development. The element of time (micro, meso and
macrotime) was highlighted increasingly during the 1980s, until being formally
attached to the PPCT model in the final phase of the theory’s development.  Bronfenbrenner stressed that human
development involves both continuity and progressive in the person’s
characteristics over time and space (1975, 1978, 1979), which signifies
continuity both in the person and in the environment (1975). This is a
significant contribution to the field of developmental research as he
incorporated both proximal and distal ecological systems, including historical
time (Tudge, Mokrova, Hatfield, & Karnik, 2009). Further, he identified the
key role of temporal variables (both in ontogenesis and throughout history) in
developmental processes, highlighting the need for researchers to carry out
longitudinal studies. This emphasis on time within the PPCT saw a shift within
the field of developmental research, adopting the longitudinal research design,
which has since become the mainstay and gold standard design in research.

Confused with mechanistic

The PPCT model is
particularly prone to misrepresentation and lack of appropriate evaluations in
the literature, given that it is a contextualist theory that is too often
treated as though it fits within a mechanist paradigm (Tudge et al. 2009). Overton
(Overton, 1984; Overton & Reese, 1973) has argued that contextualism,
lacking the idea of a developmental end point, is not an appropriate paradigm
for developmental science, and that in its “strict contextualist” form, it should
be linked with mechanism or linked with organicism -“relational
organicism-contextualism,” (e.g., Overton, 2013; Overton & Ennis, 2006). Overton has thus treated the
PPCT model as though it is a mechanistic model, although providing no direct
evidence supporting his placement. In addition, hat Overton (2013) termed the
“five defining features” of the development process are (non-linearity , order
and sequence, direction, relative permanence and relative irreversibility, and epigenesist
and emergence) (p.53,originalemphasis) are not included in Bronfenbrenner’s
theories and he consigned it to the mechanist camp. As Tudge et al. (2009) and
Rosa and Tudge (2013) made clear, particularly with the introduction of
proximal processes into the PPCT model, there is no reason to view the theory
as one of independent effects (as required by mechanist theories). Furthermore,
Overton (2013, 2015)

Misuse of Bronfenbrenner’s PPCT

2009, Tudge, Mokrova, Hatfield and Karnik evaluated the extent to which
scholars were accurately implementing the PPCT model, and concluded that very
few of the papers published beyond the year 2000 represented the most recent
version of the theory (PPCT). This was substantiated by their follow up study,
reporting that out of 25 studies published between 2001 and 2008, who stated
that their research was based on Bronfenbrenner’s theory, only four were based
on the most recent form of the theory, and most described the theory simply as
one of contextual influences on development, completely ignoring the
centrepiece of the theory in its final incarnation: proximal processes.
Importantly, the purpose of employing a theory as the foundation for one’s
research should be not only to determine the variables on which to focus and
the methods to employ but also to provide some critical evaluation of that
theory. As Meehl (1978) wrote: “Theories in ‘soft’ areas of psychology lack the
cumulative character of scientific knowledge. They tend neither to be refuted
nor to be corroborated, but instead merely fade away as people lose interest”
(p. 806). Neither refutation nor corroboration is possible, however when the
theory is misrepresented or when inappropriate methods are used.

Shortcomings of the PPCT Model

their core, ecological models of development are, by nature, exceedingly
complex. They consist of a large number of diverse components, nonlinear
interactions, as well as scale multiplicity and heterogeneity (Wu & David,
Moreover, conducting research that is derivative of the contextualist
metatheory requires methodological approaches that incorporate change-sensitive
research designs, measurements and data analysis methods. This, as well as the
acknowledgment that individuals actively participate in the production of their
own ontogenetic development is an essential feature that must (Overton, 2015).
In relation to the PPCT model, appropriate use requires a focus on proximal
processes, a means to show that’s these proximal processes are simultaneously
synergistically influenced by both person characteristics (minimum of two
levels, eg high and low levels of motivation) and by the context (a minimum of
two relevant contexts). Unfortunately, Bronfenbrenner wrote no methodological
script for how to translate his bioecological model into research nor did he
conduct any original research himself. Rather he drew on external sources, for
example Drillen (1964) in order to illustrate how the PPCT model could be
adopted and implemented.

is extensive specification is no doubt a challenge for any research team to
satisfy. As a result, so it does not come
as a surprise that the model is not well represented in the literature. The
goal of Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model is to try to understand the joint,
synergistic effects of several relevant influencing factors. However, research
has oversimplified this framework meaning that the complexity inherent in
contextualist or organicist theorizing is too often reduced to methods that while
simpler to apply, are simply inappropriate. In other words, any research that
reduces Bronfenbrenner’s theory to the independent effect of context on
development is misguided, treating his theory as mechanist rather than
contextualist. In order to prove the utility of a theory, the theory itself
must be practical.  


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