A promising approach to future biosocial research on the family: Considering the role of temporal context

Jennifer B. KANE, Chun Bun Ian LAM

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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. Copyright © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiosocial foundations of family processes
EditorsAlan BOOTH, Susan M. MCHALE, Nancy S. LANDALE
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Electronic)9781441973610
ISBN (Print)9781441973603
Publication statusPublished - 2011


health behavior
Social Environment


Kane, J. B., & Lam, C. B. (2011). A promising approach to future biosocial research on the family: Considering the role of temporal context. In A. Booth, S. M. McHale, & N. S. Landale (Eds.), Biosocial foundations of family processes (pp. 247-264). New York: Springer.


  • Cortisol level
  • ADHD symptom
  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia
  • Ecological perspective
  • Pubertal timing