A Promising Approach to Future Biosocial Research on the Family: Considering the Role of Temporal Context

  • Jennifer B. Kane
  • Chun Bun Lam
Part of the National Symposium on Family Issues book series (NSFI)


A central theme of this volume is the importance of context (and in particular, the family environment) for understanding the role of physiological influences in human behavior, health, and development. In this concluding chapter, we argue for the importance of greater attention to one contextual dimension, temporal context, whose significance is often overlooked. We discuss several examples of temporal context drawn from theoretical frameworks such as ecological perspective and life course theory, including duration of time within a proximal social environment or state, “critical” or sensitive periods of development, developmental period or stage, and historical time. We also discuss another type of temporal context, evolutionary time, which is implicated in studies within evolutionary psychology that focus on historical adaptations of family-related behaviors. Many chapters in this volume implicitly acknowledge the role of temporal context, but few explicitly discuss its importance or estimate its effects. Moreover, none discuss the potential benefit of incorporating temporal context into future biosocial research on the family. In this chapter, we expound upon this point, building the argument that future research on biosocial influences on the family can benefit from explicitly acknowledging and incorporating temporal context in both measurement and theoretical models.


Cortisol Level ADHD Symptom Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia Ecological Perspective Pubertal Timing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors received support from the Population Research Institute’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Interdisciplinary Training in Demography (Grant No. T-32HD007514, PI: Gordon DeJong).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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