Biosocial Perspectives on the Family

By Booth, Alan; Carver, Karen et al. | Journal of Marriage and Family, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Biosocial Perspectives on the Family


Booth, Alan, Carver, Karen, Granger, Douglas A., Journal of Marriage and Family


New theoretical models conceptualize families as systems affected by, and effecting change in, reciprocal influences among social, behavioral, and biological processes. Technological breakthroughs make noninvasive assessment of many biological processes available to family researchers. These theoretical and measurement advances have resulted in significant increases in research on family processes and relationships that integrate knowledge from the fields of behavioral endocrinology, behavior genetics, and, to a lesser degree, evolutionary psychology. This review covers a broad spectrum, including the topics of parenthood, early child development, adolescent and middle child development, parent-child relations, courtship and mate selection, and the quality and stability of marital and intimate relations. Our intention is to introduce, by example, the relevance of the biosocial approach, encourage family researchers to consider the application of these ideas to their interests, and increase the participation of family researchers in the next generation of studies.

Key Words: child development, evolution, family relations, genetics, hormones.

This is the first appearance of a decade-in-review article devoted to biosocial perspectives on the family. There are several decades of research examining the links between biology and individual development (e.g., perception, memory, maturation), but it is only recently that research has focused on families. Although the information is still fragmented, we now have enough to devote an article to biosocial research as it pertains to families. By biosocial we mean concepts linking psychosocial factors to physiology, genetics, and evolution. This article is a prelude to an explosion of biosocial research related to families anticipated over the next decade. We offer a hint of things to come and hope to perhaps encourage readers to start their own biosocial research project.

Early social scientists, such as William James (1842-1910), assumed that physiological processes were critical components of the behavioral and social phenomena they were studying. Until recently, however, the influence of those assumptions on scientific thinking was limited by significant gaps in knowledge. The nature of many physiological processes was largely unknown, and the technology necessary to operationalize physiological variables was in its infancy. Given these limitations, it is not surprising that research on human development and the family largely focused on the interface between the social environment and individual behavior. Many of those who did study physiological processes looked for simplistic models in which reductionist principles could be applied to reveal "the biological determinants" of behavior. The application of this focus led to clearly drawn boundaries between the social and biological sciences, the exceptions being studies of individual prenatal, infant, and adolescent development.

In the last 2 decades, significant effort has been focused on reversing this trend. Technical and conceptual advances have begun to break down disciplinary walls. Specifically, advances that enable noninvasive and inexpensive measurement of many physiological processes have given behavioral and social researchers new opportunities to integrate biological measures into their programs (Granger, Schwartz, Booth, & Arentz, 1999). In parallel, a series of paradigm shifts have occurred in scientific thinking about the relative contributions of both nature and nurture to behavioral phenomena (McClearn, 1993) and individual development (Gottlieb, 1992).

Dynamic models have replaced the simple reductionist ones of the past. They can best be described as systems models positing that individuals and families are best understood as the product of reciprocal influences among environmental (primarily social), behavioral, and biological processes (e.g., Cairns, Gariepy, & Hood, 1990; Gottlieb, 1991, 1992). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Biosocial Perspectives on the Family
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.