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Running head: NO BORING LITLE FRIENDS

No Boring Little Friends:


A Case Study Analysis from a Bioecological Framework
Laura Witt
Millersville University

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No Boring Little Friends:

A Case Study Analysis from a Bioecological Framework


The case study titled, No Boring Little Friends tells the story of an adolescent female
and the experiences that transpire during her young life. Specifically, the case study provides
heavy themes of emerging identity, control, friendship, and sexuality. As the narrator, Ann,
primarily describes these themes in the context of her relationships with peers, the opposite sex,
family, and her environment (Garrod, Smulyan, Powers, & Kilkenny, 2002). Furthermore,
Anns exchanges with various characteristics of herself, as well as the contexts and systems that
surround her can further depict her development and psychological makeup as a teenager within
the framework of Bronfenbrenners Bioecological Theory of Human Development (Tudge,
Mokrova, Hatfield, & Karnik, 2009). The following paper will interpret Anns adolescence from
the perspective of Bronfenbrenners Process-Person-Context-Time model, which is derived from
this theory. Moreover, Anns adolescence is further synthesized with additional evaluations
from current trends of research.
Bioecological Analysis From Bronfenbrenners Theory of Human Development
According to Tudge et al. (2009) Bronfenbrenners Bioecological Theory of Human
Development considers the importance of an individuals development as it arises within various
contexts, systems, and time periods. Bronfenbrenner also believed that the individual must be
understood within the perspectives of the relationship between their personal attributes and that
of their environment. These interrelations frequently take the form of process, person, context,
and time variables.

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Process
The process variable of this theory is possibly Bronfenbrenners most critical. This
element is exemplified through the manner in which an individuals development occurs within
continuous interactions with their environment. These interrelations stimulate an individuals
progression of development because through relating to these processes, a person can begin to
better relate to their world and understand how they fit into the many system in which they live
(Tudge et al., 2009).
In addition, Bronfenbrenner and Morris (1998) provided two propositions to further
conceptualize this factor. First, the authors believed that development occurs throughout mutual
interactions with the contexts, objects, etc., in an individuals immediate environment. In
addition, this interrelated interaction often manifests throughout a lengthy period of time.
Moreover, the makeup of this process is contingent on the personal attributes of the individual, as
well as various contextual factors, the nature of development, and the systematic time periods in
which the process is occurring. This specific component is often defined as proximal processes
(as cited in Tudge et al, 2009). For Ann, a significant process that took place throughout her
adolescence was her development of understanding who she is as an individual, as well as in
relation to the significant figures in her life. Fundamentally, this interaction can be narrowed to
two more specific processes, which include her continuous aspirations for interpersonal
relationships, and her fluctuating sense of self.
As Ann narrates her experience throughout the case, there is a consistent dichotomy that
appears to exemplify her adolescent self-concept. For instance, she often describes being
perceived as a good girl (Garrod et al, 2002, p. 225), yet also exhibits rebellious behaviors
along side her friends, Dana and Liz. Nevertheless, she is able to maintain her innocent image

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because she is very cautious of being caught in the act of exemplifying the latter forms of her
behavior, and is also vigilant of pushing certain boundaries that relate to this rebellion.
Generally, it seems that Ann consistently changes from expressing herself with aspects of
innocence to seeking out freedom through teenage rebellion. For instance, she describes
obtaining fraudulent identification documents alongside her close friends and going to bars and
nightclubs to experiment with alcohol, but never succumbing to the point of intoxication. She
and her friends also consistently smoked cigarettes, yet made sure that they were never caught
doing so. In doing this, Ann describes feeling immoral and hypocritical (Garrod et al., 2002).
In essence, it seems that Ann is living within two notions of self-concept. The first
comprises her urges to rebel, experience a sense of freedom, and be perceived as adult-like.
However, in the second, she feels extremely innocent and prudent. Through this process, Ann
appears to be searching for a manifestation of her authentic self and identity within these two
contrasting views of self-understanding. Consequently, it seems that she may also be coming to
terms with opposing attributes of her disposition.
Anns search for identity can be described through Erik Eriksons understanding of
psychosocial development and his consideration of the adolescent crisis of identity versus
identity diffusion. McMahan (2009) described that during adolescence, Erikson believed that
individuals might respond to oppositions regarding their need to explore their own uniqueness
and their need to acquire validation from their community, family, and peers. During this period,
adolescents also begin to question certain contextual values that have been ingrained in them
since childhood, in order to begin to forge their own unique perspectives. Additionally, empirical
literature has further described this phenomenon. Rubstova (2012) described that during
adolescence, individuals must acknowledge the differences between their previous identity as a

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child, and their current place as an adolescent, which can take form in various social roles. In
order to successfully come to terms with their identity, this conflict must be experienced.
Essentially, Anns conflict between her good girl (Garrod et al, 2002, p. 225) innocence and
her experimentation with certain mature social roles appears to enable her to continue this
process, which will inherently effect her overall development of identity.
Furthermore, throughout this process, Ann also strives to understand who she is in regard
to those around her. In doing this, she consistently describes her desire for relationships.
Specifically, as an adolescent, she craves relationships with the opposite sex. Garrod et al.
(2002) described the following:
More than that, I wanted someone to fall in love with me. I wanted a taller, older, smarter,
more worldly boy (more everything than the boys I knew) to be in love with me. I wanted
that kind of boy/man to help me experience the world more fully. I read a lot of books,
which no doubt perpetuated my idea that a relationship would complete me and increased
my desire for a boyfriend or a love affair (p. 229).
As relationships with the opposite sex appeared to be such profound themes of Anns young life,
it seems that through these affiliations Ann is able to begin to conceptualize how such
relationships might manifest. McMahan (2009) described that romantic relationships during
adolescence can take on a socializing role, as adolescents learn to become a sensitive romantic
partner, as well as interchangeably teach their romantic companions the same role. Thus, from
the processes of her desiring these connections and then subsequently experiencing these
relationships (Garrod et al., 2002), it appears that Ann was able to begin to define herself and
understand who she is as a person, as well as better understand her place within these
relationships.

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At this time Ann also relied on her friendships with females to further stimulate this type
of introspection. For instance, according to Garrod et al. (2002), Ann described the following:
I see my relationships with women as continuing to be places where I develop and define
myself, where through interaction and shared experiences I become more and more
comfortable with who I am, where I have come from, and where my life is going. I am
supported in these relationships, in them I feel comfortable and safe and loved (p. 233).
Like her romantic experiences, Anns desire for platonic friendships is common during
adolescence and also played a role in her achievement of identity. Ragelien (2016) describes
that an adolescents ability to forge relationships with peers is connected to their successful
maintenance of their identity, both of which are correlated with adolescent well-being and
clarification of worldviews. Consequently, these relationships can serve as a springboard of
identity formation, as social comparisons with friends are additionally quite commonplace during
this period, but also decrease once adolescents solidify their sense of self.
In essence, Ann appeared to utilize her relationships with female friends, as well as
potential romantic partners, to better recognize her conceptualization of herself and also to
provide a sense of comfort throughout this period of discernment. However, as clarified in the
research described above, Ann also frequently uses her friendships as points of comparison, as
she continues through this process. For instance, Ann went on to state, My personality was not
overtly extreme as Liz or Danas. I always felt boring in comparison to the two of them (Garrod
et al., 2002, p. 229). Therefore, along with her friends providing a sense of comfort as she
continued the process of self-understanding, her comparisons to these individuals also enabled to
her to eventually understand her own individuality and how she differs from the significant
figures that were present throughout her young life.

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Person
Bronfenbrenner recognized the significance of an individuals inherent biological and
social traits. Additionally, the influences that these characteristics have on a persons general
development and their contextual interaction are also explicated in his theory. Furthermore,
Bronfenbrenner understood these attributes as taking on three potential forms. These include
domains of demand, force, and resource characteristics (Tudge et al., 2009).
Demand Characteristics. First, demand characteristics are those that are superficial;
meaning, they are outwardly visible and can provide preconceived judgments about an
individual. Often, these demand characteristics take the form of skin color, age, gender, and
other physical appearances (Tudge et al., 2009). For Ann, an important demand characteristic
was her age. In her family, Ann was the eldest daughter and sister. This position within her
family greatly affected her worldview and her perspectives of her interpersonal relationships. As
a result of her being one of the older and more mature siblings, Ann described feeling a need to
help care for her younger siblings. She went on to describe that she valued this role because it
helped support the entire family system. Therefore, her role within her family microsystem
appeared to inspire an area of her personality, which also played to her strength of her
understanding and inherent empathy for others (Garrod et al., 2002).
Eckstein and Kaufman (2012) went on to describe the role of birth order and its
mediating effect on an individuals development and personality. Specifically, older siblings
were described as being most successful during phases of stress. These individuals were also
more likely to be leaders and express more pronounced instincts toward motivation than their
younger counterparts (Eckstein, 2000; Eckstein, et al., 2010, as cited in Eckstein & Kauffman,
2012). When applying this information to Anns life, it seems that her role of older sibling

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provided her with the inspiration to care for her family members. Thus, her capacity for care and
compassion may have been inspired by these actions, which were ultimately facilitated by her
family role and age.
Additionally, Anns physical appearance also served as an important demand
characteristic. Ann often speaks about her physical appearance throughout the case study, which
provided her with several insecurities and appeared to greatly alter her conceptualization of
herself (Garrod et al., 2002). For instance, Garrod et al., (2002) describes Ann as stating the
following:
I was always much taller than everyone in my classes until high school. By junior high
school I was even taller than some men teachers, which embarrassed me greatly. My
body size influenced me in two important ways. I think people felt that I was very
mature and responsible, and they treated me that way- so I did assume a lot of
responsibility from my teachers and my parents. At the same time, I think my physical
body did mature earlier than other kids did, and this seemed to be a social drawback to
me. I never felt cute or desirable. I always felt too big, too much like a boy. I think I
missed out on the girlishness of adolescence (p. 230).
In addition to this quote, Ann also describes comparing her physical characteristics to that of
magazine models and her friends. She also describes extreme dieting for months at a time, in
order to lose weight in hopes of maintaining a modeling portfolio that would eventually inspire a
career in this field. For these reasons, her physical appearance was a significant demand
characteristic for Ann, as it seemed to inspire several themes of body image throughout the case.
Anns focus on her physical appearance and her possible distorted views of body image
can be related to recent empirical research. The research by Carey, Donaghue, and Broderick

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(2014) described the commonality of body image interests and the influences that social
comparison can have on these perspectives during adolescence. Particularly, the researchers
explicated the differentiating influences that these comparisons can take on when made to peers
or models. Regardless of the source of the comparison, frequent social comparisons of physical
appearance were described as being correlated with an adolescents fixation on body image and
concern for appearance. However, comparisons with peers were found to be the most significant
predictors of these concerns, and took on a higher precedence than those that are made to
models.
Moreover, it seems that this phenomenon can be related to other prior research findings,
which stated that for adolescent females, physical comparisons with peers take on a predominant
effect because these observations can be made directly and cannot be thought of as unattainable
media standards. Finally, in social contexts these comparisons are understood as a source of
social capital, which stimulates popularity and privilege among peers (Carey, Donaghue, &
Broderick, 2011). Therefore, it seems that Anns experiences coincide with current research, as
her comparisons of her own physical attributes to that of her peers greatly formed her reflections
of herself, while those that were made to magazine images also had a significant role.
Resource Characteristics. As indicated above, her physical appearance played a
significant role in Anns life as an adolescent. However, these implications can also be related to
resource characteristics. Resource characteristics are traits that are not externally noticeable.
These attributes can also not be interpreted through initial judgments. Rather, these may include
mental strengths and tangible resources. For instance, common resource characteristics may
include intelligence, cognitive aptitudes, and access to material benefits, such an individuals
contact with familial support, nourishment, and housing (Tudge et al., 2009).

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Primarily, Anns physical appearance seemed strengthen her resource characteristic of


maturity. As her friends, Dana Liz, were openly rebellious and disobedient toward their parents
and family systems, Ann was more attentive toward her academics and future, as she consistently
noted her interests and effort in regard to schoolwork and budding aspirations, which eventually
earned her the title of valedictorian. Though she did rebel alongside of these friends, she did so
in a less radical manner, as she was persistently apprehensive about the consequences of her
rebellion. Likewise, Ann also described that she was treated as more of an adult than her peers
because of her mature physical characteristics (Garrod et al., 2002). Thus, it seems that because
of the adult-like manner in which she was treated, which developed from her demand
characteristic of physical appearance, Ann consequently displayed more mature behavior during
her adolescence when compared to her friends.
Another apparent resource characteristic was Annes was connection with her family, as
well as the support that was present in this microsystem. In comparison to her friends, Ann had
strong emotional ties with her family. This is because the two friends who were described
throughout the case experienced frequent and intense verbal conflicts with their own parents and
within their family units. However, though Ann to some degree felt burdened and restrained by
her own parents, her family also provided feelings of security and support. This support was
exemplified through Anns frequent caring for her younger siblings and the immense fulfillment
that she gained from supporting her family in this way (Garrod et al., 2002).
Likewise, the importance of family and emotional connections with parents were
described by McMahan (2009). This resource stated the healthy and secure attachments to
others, such as family members, during early life could create positive internal working models.
When beneficially established, these patterns enable individuals to form positive relationships

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with others throughout the rest of their life. Consequently, Anns her closeness to her family
appeared to provide these feelings of support, confidence, and comfort, though these attributes
may not have been felt by her peers who did not have such profound familial connections.
At the introduction of the case, Anns self-image and self-concept were further described
when she referred to herself as funky (Garrod et al., 2002, p. 224). Largely, this resource
characteristic also empowered Ann to fit in her with close friends and contributed to the makeup
of this system (Garrod et al., 2002). Ann went on to describe, We defined each other with
words and with each others presence (Garrod et al., 2002, p. 224). McMahan (2009) validated
the work of both Cooley and Mead regarding the development of self-concept and the related
influence of social contexts. In such theories, it is believed that peers are crucial in an individual
developing an understanding of self, while the reactions of peer groups are thought to either
negate or affirm these developments. Therefore, it seems that this resource characteristic, as it
worked to define her sense of self, permitted Ann to identify with her friend group and also better
understand her role within this microsystem, and consequently herself overall.
Other resource characteristics such as Anns insightfulness and empathy toward others
were additionally described throughout the case. It seems that throughout the text, Ann
displayed a talent for identifying and relating to the needs of others. For instance, she described
feeling remorseful toward her mother who was overwhelmingly inundated with both child and
economic constraints, which presented themselves throughout the family microsystem.
Furthermore, she also described her compassion for a peer who was verbally attacked by other
acquaintances and peers at one point during the case. Ann was so remorseful of this occurrence
that she removed herself from the situation, which would later earn her respect from others in her
peer group (Garrod et al., 2002). Largely, it seems that this specific trait influenced her reactions

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to certain occurrences within the surrounding contextual systems and drove her relationships
with those around her.
Force Characteristics. Tudge et al. (2009) described force characteristics as attributes
that regard temperament. For instance, these can often include persistence, motivation, etc. In
Anns case, a noticeable force characteristic is her overarching likeability. At one point, she
described the level of her social acceptance by peers by stating, I was cool enough not be a
geek, nice to lots of people, and was also productive (Garrod et al., 2002, p. 226). It seems that
the force characteristic of her congeniality enabled Ann to fit in with her peer group and also
allowed her to be accepted within this microsystem, though she also felt that her connection to
this system was somewhat insecure (Garrod et al., 2002).
McMahan (2009) described the characteristics of adolescents who are accepted by their
peer group. These attributes often relate to popular adolescents. Consequently, popular
adolescents experience high social preference and impact. Moreover, these individuals are often
positive, friendly, and have other characteristics related to congeniality (Coie, Dodge, &
Kupersmith, 1990; Kennedy, 1990; Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 2006, as cited in McMahan,
2009). Therefore it seems that Annes force characteristic of likeability may have facilitated her
acceptance by her peers.
Ann also described being actively involved with her school environment and with
extracurricular activities. This involvement demonstrated another force characteristic.
Specifically, Ann was involved with the school newspaper and sports teams, and was also
relationally close with faculty members at her school. Subsequently, she was named
valedictorian of her graduating class (Garrod et al., 2002). Additionally, Ann described that she
was cool for basically unexciting reasons- the girl people could refer to when their parents

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werent going to let them do something. Anns going so (Garrod et al., 2002, p. 226). It
appears that because she was so well-rounded, Ann was respected by her peers and their parents.
This additionally facilitated her social acceptance. However, she seems to also portray this
acceptance as unstable, because she describes that she was only accepted by this peer group for
unexciting reasons (Garrod et al., 2002, p. 226). Essentially, though this quality enabled her to
be accepted by her peer group, it also caused an insecure connection with this microsystem, as
well.
de Bruyn and Cillessen (2006) described that popular adolescents can take on two
predominant characteristics, such those who are popular and not well-liked and those who are
popular and prosocial. The latter group is also admired by their peers, as they are amicable and
scholastically involved. However, the not well-liked group of popular adolescents often appears
to be more aggressive. It can be inferred that Ann would fall into the prosocial category of
popular adolescents as she was admired by her peers and their families, and was also very
involved with her school environment (Garrod et al., 2002). This status was facilitated by the
force characteristics that were described above.
Furthermore, Ann describes herself as very responsible and future-oriented. For instance,
she describes striving for academic and other domains of success in order to never lose
impending future opportunities. She also explained her goal of obtaining a college scholarship,
as her family system was often burdened by financial complications and this resource could work
to support her dreams of attending college. It seems that because of this force characteristic, Ann
was able to be academically successful, which added to her realizing her goal of graduating from
college (Garrod et al., 2002). McMahan (2009) described the notion of possible selves, which
was initially extrapolated by Oysterman and Fryberg (2001). This concept comprises the sense

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of potential selves that an individual may have, which then causes them to take on certain
courses of action in order to realize these potential identities (as cited in McMahan, 2009). It
seems that as an adolescent, Ann takes on the possible self of a college graduate, and thus
exhibits certain behaviors that will enable this identity.
Context
Bronfenbrenners ideas of context involve the interrelated systems that occur around the
individual, which they also indirectly and directly engage with in order to influence their overall
development. This variable includes microsystems, which are the close and more intimate
contexts in which an individual actively interacts. Additionally, mesosystems comprise the
interrelated interactions between these microsystems. Moreover, exosystems are the contextual
influences in which individuals are not directly involved, yet also indirectly influence their
general being (Tudge et al, 2009). For instance, the community can be included in this system
(McMahan, 2009). Finally, macrosystems are larger contextual forces that have profound yet
indirect influences on the individuals who live within them. Specifically, these influences can
include cultural and social occurrences (Tudge et al, 2009).
Microsystems. For Ann, perhaps her most essential microsystem comprises the
relationships that were established in her family system. For instance, Ann often felt that her
family, particularly her parents were very controlling of her behaviors. Furthermore, she also
resented that her older brother was given more freedom than her during their adolescence.
Nevertheless, Ann also enjoyed pleasing her parents and often obliged their requests for her good
behavior, as she described that her family was very close (Garrod et al., 2002). It seems that
because her parents both set limits for Ann, but also forged close relationships within the family,
they upheld authoritative approaches to parenting. According to McMahan (2009) children who

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have authoritative parents are independent and self-assured, yet also have lesser experiences with
delinquent behaviors. Therefore, it seems that the positive qualities exhibited by Ann, such as
her maturity and even-handedness may have been inspired by the close relationships and
parenting styles that were exhibited throughout her family microsystem.
Though Ann did appear to demonstrate many of the positive behavioral effects of
authoritative parenting, she did also experiment with rebellious or delinquent behaviors, which
McMahan (2009) demonstrated does not typically occur within this population. However, other
microsystems may have influenced this behavior. For instance, Ann along with her friends used
fraudulent identification documents to gain access to nightclubs and bars in a neighboring city. It
was through her direct interaction with her friend microsystem that Ann was able to exhibit the
rebellion that she sought as an adolescent. Specifically, Ann described that by interacting within
this context, this behavior felt exciting and even slightly dangerous (Garrod et al., 2002, p.
232). Therefore, because of this microsystem, Ann was given opportunities to experiment with
these behaviors. Without these influences, which were distinctly prohibited by her family
microsystem (Garrod et al., 2002), Ann may have never exhibited these behaviors during her
young life.
Furthermore, Ann often spoke about financial constraints in her family system. For
instance, Ann stated that because money was always an issue for her parents, she often shopped
at thrift stores for clothing. Specifically, Ann stated, We didnt have a lot of money. I didnt
always have the right kind of jeans or sneakers. I wore clothes from thrift shops before they
were cool (Garrod et al., 2002, p. 226). For this reason, her family was in sharp contrast to their
community, which highly regarded strong finances. This is because money was of little value to
them because of their low socioeconomic status and lack of this resource. Therefore, it seems

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that because of her immediate interactions with her family microsystem, Ann was significantly
set apart from others who were proximally close to her. This additionally contributed to her
responsibility toward her schoolwork and her future-oriented demeanor. She understood that she
needed to demonstrate academic excellence in order to be able to achieve her dream of attending
college through a scholarship, in spite of her familys overarching financial limitations (Garrod et
al., 2002). Likewise, this influence of her family microsystem contributed to many aspects of
Anns life.
Additionally, Anns interactions with her school environment and close friend group
acted as two essential microsystems. For instance, Ann experienced many imperative
educational and extracurricular opportunities at school, as she was engaged with many academic
and supplementary activities. Her engagement with these opportunities appeared to contribute to
her overall well-being (Garrod et al., 2002), as it does for many adolescents (McMahan, 2009).
However, she also frequently described her interactions with her peers in this system with
feelings of distrust. Ann became close friends with Liz and Dana, who were frequently
described throughout the case, because the three of them similarly sought trusting friendships.
Through her direct interactions with her school microsystem, Ann appeared to witness the
untrustworthy qualities that were exhibited by her peers in this system, which facilitated an
additional lasting friendship microsystem with Dana and Liz (Garrod et al., 2002). Essentially, it
seems that Ann and her friends exhibited high quality friendships, which McMahan (2009) went
on to describe as inducing greater self-esteem, school involvement, social acceptance, etc. Thus,
Ann worked to develop this microsystem between her close friends, in order to forge these
characteristics of a friendship that may not have been otherwise available at her school. It can be

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inferred that this microsystem provided Ann with benefits that were similar to those that were
described by McMahan (2009).
Mesosystems. Likewise, the interactions between the two microsystems described above
seemed to perpetuate a form of a mesosystem. Ann, Liz, and Dana created a unique and trusting
close friend microsystem in order to offset the negative characteristics that were present within
their school microsystem (Garrod et al., 2002). In a way, both of these microsystems interacted,
as the direct exchanges that Liz, Dana, and Ann had with their initial school microsystem
appeared to inspire them to come together to create a unique and high quality friendship between
them, which then took the form of an additional specific microsystem. In this way, a
mesosystem was established.
Similarly, regarding her friend microsystem, this context often overlapped with that of
her family microsystem. For instance, Ann would often lie to her parents in attempts to spend
time with Liz and Dana in order to participate in certain rebellious behaviors, such as
experimenting with alcohol, attending nightclubs, etc. (Garrod, et al., 2002). Though Ann did
have a relatively positive relationship with her own parents when compared to that of her friends,
these two microsystems merged to form a mesosystem, as Ann frequently had to disobey her
family microsystems in order to participate in specific activities within her friend microsystem.
Perhaps, this mesosystem frequently manifested, as adolescents typically spend more time with
friends than with their family during this period (McMahan, 2009).
As Anns popularity increased as a result of the personal characteristics that were
described above, Anns peers and friends influenced her to participate in and run for student
government. However, it was exemplified that her friends did this so they could receive the
perks of easier access to these organizations, as well (Garrod et al., 2002). At this specific point,

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Anns direct interactions with her peer and school microsystems merged, as one context
influenced her further involvement with the other.
Exosystems. As described above, Anns family often experience looming financial
constraints within their particular microsystem. Thus, Anns parents were often distracted by
these financial burdens, which frequently diverted their attention from her (Garrod et al., 2002).
Perhaps as a result of this distraction, Ann often got away with the rebellious behaviors that she
frequently exhibited during her teen years without the knowledge of her parents. Therefore,
though these concerns did not necessarily directly interact with Ann, the effects of these indirect
connections greatly affected her, as they contributed to the specific behaviors that she exhibited
as an adolescent. This subsequently created a form of an exosystem.
Her conceptualizations of community also worked as exosystems that additionally
affected Ann. For instance, Ann described certain differences that she observed between her
peers who resided in the Western side of her community and those from the East, which included
herself (Garrod et al., 2002). She described that those from the West had reputations as loudmouthed rich kids (Garrod et al., 2002, p. 226). Furthermore, the social cliques that were
demonstrated in the Western communities were also more solidified than those from the East
(Garrod et al., 2002). In essence, Ann may have felt very disconnected with certain parts of her
community. McMahan (2009) described that a strong connection with ones community can
create a sense of acceptance, belonging, and strong social values in an individual. It can be
inferred that because Ann sensed a slight disconnect with certain parts of her own community,
she lacked the belonging than can be fostered by these connections.
Similarly, Ann described that her school as a younger adolescent was extremely strict, to
the degree that she compared this context to a Catholic Church. Nevertheless, her school

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provided Ann with the opportunities to engage with extracurricular opportunities and academic
achievement, both of which enabled her to eventually become the valedictorian of her graduating
class. Additionally, the educational opportunities provided by this system enabled her to one day
go on to become a college graduate, and facilitate more achievements throughout her life
(Garrod et al, 2002). Though Ann did not seem to directly interact with the strict overarching
disciplinary and administrative makeup that was provided within this system, the foundation of
this environment did work to impact the nature of her education and consequential achievement.
The doctrine of the Catholic Church also played a pivotal role in Anns young life. For
instance, she often described her religious affiliations and how these contexts instructed her to
live an exclusively moral life. In doing this, she was taught that she should avoid behaviors such
as reading daily horoscopes, experiencing sexual desires, etc. (Garrod et al., 2002). In essence,
this exosystem appeared to influence her experience of the dichotomy that was described above,
as it propelled to her work to maintain an innocent image, as well as feel guilty about the
experimental behaviors that she eventually demonstrated as an adolescent.
Research has gone on to study the relationship of religious affiliations and behaviors that
are comparable to the rebellious actions that Ann demonstrated throughout the case. For
instance, research by Penny and Francis (2015) derived a correlation between lower alcohol use,
rates of addiction, and higher church attendance. However, Merrill, Folsom and Christopherson
(2005) described that family religious activities canserveasprotectivefactorsagainsttheuseof
certainsubstances.Annappearedtobemorecautiousthanherfriends,whohadpreviously
retractedtheirreligiousaffiliations.Sheconsequentlyengagedinlessrisktakingthatinvolved
alcoholthantheseindividuals(Garrod et al, 2002).ThoughAnndidexperimentwithcertain

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substancesatthispoint,itseemsthattheindirectinfluencesofherCatholicfaithmayhave
contributedtothelesserseverityofthisbehavior.
Finally,asdescribedabove,Annsdirectinteractionswithpeersandherschoolenabled
hertowitnesstheuntrustworthyqualitiesthatwereoftenpresentwithintherelationships
betweenherpeers(Garrod et al, 2002).ThoughAnnsinteractionswithherschoolandpeers
initiallyservedasamicrosystem,itseemsthattheuntrustingrelationshipsbetweenherpeers
qualifyasexosystems.ThisisbecauseAnnwasnotdirectlyinvolvedwiththeserelationships,
yetthecharacteristicsoftheseaffiliationshadaprofoundyetindirecteffectonher.Itwasthe
distrustwithintheserelationshipsthatinspiredAnn,Liz,andDanatocreateauniqueand
trustingmicrosystemamongthem(Garrod et al, 2002).Essentially,theindirecteffectsofthe
relationshipsthatdidnotdirectlyincludeAnnservedasessentialformsofexosystemsand
inspiredothertrustingmicrosystems.
Macrosystems. In regard to macrosystems, the beliefs of individuals in her community
had an indirect and important effect on Anns young life. For instance, she described that within
her general community, money and financial security were greatly valued. However, her family
did not share these beliefs, because they were not as financially secure as others within this
system (Garrod et al., 2002). This appeared to set Ann apart from others within this context,
meaning these macrosystems had the indirect effect of differentiating Ann from others who were
proximally close to her.
Additionally, the culture of the neighboring city also greatly affected her. As described
above, Ann would often venture into New York City with her close friends in order to attend
nightclubs or bars and experiment with alcohol. The fast paced lifestyle of this city was a sharp
contrast to Anns previous experiences in her direct community, which she described as small

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and monotonous. This culture was accepting of her experimentation with alcohol and
developing sexuality as an adolescent, which gave her an outlet to engage in this type of
experimentation and independence, both of which were also not supported by her direct
community (Garrod et al., 2002).
Time
According to Tudge et al. (2009) time plays a pivotal role in Bronfenbrenners
framework. This variable can further be divided into three forms. First, micro-time describes
the occurrences that take place within a specific interaction. This concept relates to several
instances that Ann experienced throughout the case. For instance, Ann recalled one instance in
which her peers aggressively and verbally attacked an acquaintance who had bought an outfit for
a social event that was similar to that of another peer group member. However, as a result of
resource characteristics, such as her empathy, Ann left the situation in order to put an end to this
interaction. After this incident Ann feared the social repercussion of her otherwise noble actions
and the possible rejection that she may experience from her peer group. Nevertheless, Ann also
describes the group regarding her with more esteem following this incident, which subsequently
provided her with an immediate boost of confidence (Garrod et al, 2002).
Therefore, it seems that in one instance, an emergence of her resource characteristics, as
well as various contexts occurred in order to provide Ann with this meaningful interaction.
Essentially, interactions with herself and specific contextual exchanges unified within one
confined point to provider her with this unique experience of micro-time. This in turn solidified
Anns understanding of the precariousness of this friend group, and also influenced her, as well
as her close friends to remove themselves from this specific system (Garrod et al, 2002).

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In addition, meso-time describes the extent to which certain exchanges occur within a
contextual system with some degree of consistency or continuity (Tudge et al., 2009). Ann
experienced a form of meso-time through the consistency of her friendships with Dana and Liz.
These friendships developed during a period of several years of their adolescence, and
particularly took precedence during their four years of high school. Subsequently, as described
above, the reliability of these relationships appeared to advance the process of Ann beginning to
fully relate to herself and others around her. For instance, as described above, Ann stated, I see
my relationships with women as continuing to be places where I develop and define myself,
where through interaction and shared experiences I become more and more comfortable with
who I am (Garrod et al, 2002, p. 233). Through her connections with Dana and Liz, Ann
experimented with themes of identity, freedom, and personal relationships. Largely, the
consistency of these relationships constituted an example of meso-time, as these relationships
remained for an extended period of time and also greatly influenced her dynamic experiences
with self-concept.
Likewise, during her experiences with rebellion, Ann also faced a dichotomy between her
wanting to be a good girl (Garrod et al, 2002, p. 225) in conjunction with her desire to rebel.
This caused her to work to hide her experimental rebellious behaviors from certain significant
individuals, such as her parents (Garrod et al, 2002). In essence, within this prolonged period,
Ann demonstrated a pattern of interactions with her environment in which repetitive behaviors
occurred. Primarily, during this period, Ann repeatedly lied to her parents to attain a greater
degree of freedom. Additionally, she also progressed through an increasing pattern of an
incremental severity in regard to her rebellious actions. For instance, during her early adolescent
years she went from smoking cigarettes in public bathrooms to smoking marijuana in public

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23

bathrooms. She then attained false identification documents in order to experiment with alcohol,
until finally to going to bars in New York City with friends as an adolescent (Garrod et al, 2002).
Essentially, the repetitiveness and consistency of these behaviors served as significant points of
meso-time, as they greatly contributed to Anns long-lasting behaviors.
Finally, macro-time is defined as the occurrences that take place throughout various
contexts, which are often the results of historical time periods (Tudge et al, 2009. In Anns case,
the trends of the cultural macrosystem and time period that besieged her significantly swayed her
rebellious behaviors as an adolescent. In can be inferred that Ann lived through her adolescence
prior to the rise of technology and the Internet, which occurred in the decades approaching the
dawn of the twenty-first century. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce (2002), this
primarily took effect from 1998-2002 (as cited in McMahan, 2009). These inferences can be
made because Ann made no mention of social media or modern forms of technology throughout
the case (Garrod et al, 2002). It seems that without this technology, Ann and her friends would
be unable to document their experiences via the Internet or social media. In this case, it may
have been easier for Ann and her friends to get away with the rebellious behaviors that they
exhibited as adolescents, because there was no public documentation of their experiences.
This is in sharp contrast to the adolescents of current time periods, as McMahan (2009)
described that these populations often utilize the Internet for activities, such as sending e-mails,
playing recreational games, and completing schoolwork. Additionally, Miller, Parsons and Lifer
(2010) described that a significant number of adolescents utilize forms of social media, while
many knowingly post inappropriate content on social networking sites. Therefore, in the context
of macro-time, specific historical occurrences appeared to indirectly enable Anns behavior as an
adolescent, as she was unable to similarly post on these sites as adolescents of today. If this

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activity had occurred, this may have given significant individuals, such as her parents, access to
her secretive behaviors. Consequently, this knowledge of her inappropriate behaviors may have
been uncovered as a result of these mediums. Thus, variables of macro-time made this
occurrence impossible.
Conclusion
The case study, No Boring Little Friends tells a coming of age story of Ann during her
adolescence (Garrod et al., 2002). In the context of Bronfenbrenners theory (Tudge et al.,
2009), it appears that variables of process, person, context, and time can directly relate to Anns
life and development as a young person. All of these interactions appeared to have a profound
effect on her, and perhaps directly influenced her life as an adult. Furthermore, the topics
described throughout the case closely relate to current trends in adolescent psychology, as well as
the findings of existing research. Largely, this case sheds light on many perspectives that may be
applicable to adolescent populations, in order to provide stakeholders with a validated view of
this period of life.

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25
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