Bronfenbrenner's Ecologically Based Theory

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While we all tend to generalize from our own personal experience, our "common sense" understanding of family life (from experience, tradition, authority and media) is typically a poor source of accurate and reliable knowledge. If we really want to know about how families work we would be better informed by seeking and acquiring more trustworthy information.

A. In order to obtain valid research information, researchers and research consumers need to keep in mind the rules of critical (clear and unbiased) thinking.

B. Personal experience creates personal perspectives, values and beliefs, which can create blinders that keep people from accurately reading research information.

C. Objectivity in approaching information means that we suspend the beliefs, biases, or prejudices we have about a subject until we really understand what is being said, then relating it to the information and attitudes we already have.

D. A value judgment usually includes words that mean "should" and imply that our way is the correct way.

E. Opinions, biases, and stereotypes are ways of thinking that lack objectivity. 1. Opinions are based on our own experiences or ways of thinking. 2. Biases are strong opinions that may create barriers to haring anything that is contrary to our opinions. 3. Stereotypes are sets of simplistic, rigidly held, and over generalized beliefs about the personal characteristics of a group of people.

F. Fallacies are errors in reasoning.
1. Egocentric fallacies are mistaken beliefs that everyone has the same experiences ans values that we have and therefore should think as we do. 2. Ethnocentric fallacies are beliefs that one's own ethnic group, nation, or culture is innately superior to others.

Theories and Research Methods

A. Family researchers come from a variety of academic disciplines (sociology, psychology, social work, communication and family studies) but they are unified in their pursuit of accurate and reliable information about families.

B. Family science researchers use the scientific method, well-established procedures to collect information about family experiences.

A. Theories are sets of general principles or concepts used to explain phenomenon and to make predictions that may be tested and verified experimentally.
B. Family research involves the process of conceptualization, the specification and definition of concepts used by the researcher, and operationalization, the identification and/or development of research strategies to observe or measure our concepts. 1. Pauline Boss uses the term ambiguous loss to help us conceptualize the loss that disaster can cause. 2. she defines ambiguous loss as any situation or unclear loss resulting resulting from not knowing whether a loved one is dead or alive, absent or present. 3. Ambiguous loss can occur when someone is "there, but not there", of "physical presence and psychological absence" 4. The second form of ambiguous loss is where family members remain psychologically present despite physical abuse. 5. Using concepts such as ambiguous loss enables us to come to a better understanding of what families suffer from and why.

C. In deductive research, concepts are turned into variables, concepts that can vary in some meaningful way.

D. Inductive research begins with a topical interest and perhaps some vague concepts, not a hypothesis.

A. Theoretical frameworks (sometimes called paradigms) are set of concepts and assumptions about how families work and how they fit into society.

B. Family Ecology Theory emphasizes how families are influenced by, and in turn influence, the wider society. 1. The core concepts in ecological theory include environment and adaptation. 2. In Urie Brofenbrenner's ecologically based theory of human development, the environment to which individuals adapt as they develop consists of four levels: (1) microsystem, (2) mesosystem, (3)...
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