Development and Psychopathology

Special IssueSelf-OrganizationEditorsDante Cicchetti & Fred A. Rogosch

A Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (PVEST): A self-organization perspective in context

a1 University of Pennsylvania


A framework that emphasizes and integrates individuals' intersubjective experiences with Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory (PVEST) is introduced and compared with self-organizational perspectives. Similarities, differences and advantages of each framework are described. In a demonstration of PVEST's utility, a subset of data from the 3rd year of a longitudinal study (14- to 16-year-old middle adolescent African–Americans) is used for examining an achievement variable: negative learning attitude. Explored separately by gender, a regression model that contained risk, stress, and a reactive coping variable for the prediction of negative learning attitudes was investigated. For boys, stress was an independent stressor across steps independent of the other variables entered; social support was particularly important for males. For girls, not only was stress not important but it was also only the social support variable, perceived unpopularity with peers, that was a significant predictor of girls' negative learning attitude. Particularly for boys, the findings suggest critically important roles for teachers and peers in the negative learning attitude of midadolescent economically disadvantaged African–American students.

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Margaret Beale Spencer, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, 3700 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-6216.