Picture of Agora Picture of Agora

Lea Pulkkinen

Ph.D., Professor Emerita
University of Jyväskylä, Finland

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Dr. Lea Pulkkinen is Professor Emerita in Psychology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland (https://www.jyu.fi). She took her PhD at this university in 1970 and did her postdoctoral studies in the UK, at the University of Sussex. She has been a visiting scientist in the USA at the University of California, Berkeley; Arizona State University, Tempe; the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and Indiana University, Bloomington, as well as in Europe at the University of Cambridge, U.K and at the Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany.

At the University of Jyväskylä Pulkkinen (Pitkänen 1961-1975) has worked as a researcher and teacher since 1961, and was a professor from 1972 to 2005. She served as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Head of the Department of Psychology, Founding Director of the Family Research Center, Director of a National Centre of Excellence for Research (entitled Human Development and Its Risk Factors) from 1997 to 2005, and Deputy Director of the Agora Center (established for human-centered information technology),. The picture depicts the Agora building at the University of Jyväskylä, completed in 2000. The Centre of Excellence was located there.

She has served on a number of national committees, such as the Science and Technology Policy Council of Finland, chaired by the Prime Minister the National Advisory Committee for Early Education in Finland; the Parliamentary Committee on Educational Objectives for Day Care; the Board of the Church Research Institute, the Board of Governors of Statistics Finland; the Council of the Finnish Board of Film Classification; the Scientific Board of Psychology; and the Board of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.

Lea Pulkkinen is a member of the Academia Europaea. She was President of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD) from 1991 to 1996.  She has participated in workshops and conferences in every continent. She has served on several European Expert Panels and Advisory Boards, and served as Chair of the Evaluation Panel of Psychological Research at Uppsala University, Sweden, and as a Member of the Evaluation Committee of the Minerva Center for Youth Studies, University of Haifa, Israel.

Her major research project, the ongoing Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Personality and Social Development (JYLS; in Finnish, “Lapsesta aikuiseksi”) (https://www.jyu.fi/ytk/laitokset/psykologia/en/researchy/jyls/goals), has lasted for more than 40 years. The study began as her doctoral dissertation. In this study the development of the same individuals has been followed from age 8 to age 50 (2009). She continues her research work at the University of Jyväskylä on a grant from the Academy of Finland for her research group. Her successor as director of the JYLS is Dr. Katja Kokko, who leads the Laboratory of Midlife Development. The data of the JYLS have been stored in the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (http://www.fsd.uta.fi) and they are available to researchers. Pulkkinen and Kokko are members of the Center for the Analysis of Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood (CAPCA) organized by Michigan University, USA, which was established for comparative analyses of longitudinal data.

Pulkkinen has also been involved as a Co-Principal Investigator with Professor Jaakko Kaprio from the University of Helsinki in the Longitudinal Study of Health and Behavior in Finnish Twins (FinnTwin 12). The Principal Investigator has been Professor Richard J. Rose, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA.

These two longitudinal studies are presented in a book: Pulkkinen, L., Kaprio, J., & Rose, R.J. (Eds.) (2006). Socioemotional development and health from adolescence to adulthood. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Pulkkinen has been interested in social innovations and applications of research findings to child rearing. She conducted a three-year intervention study in schools in 2002-2005 (in Finnish this is the MUKAVA-project, www.mukavahanke.com); the major sub-project of it concerned the development of an integrated school day (Pulkkinen, 2004; Pulkkinen,L & Launonen, L. Eheytetty koulupäivä [Integrated schoolday]. Helsinki: Edita, 2005). The integrated school day helps in the coordination of school, work, and family life, and promotes children’s cognitive and social skills. She has been worried about children’s loneliness after school and has contributed to legislation on state support for schoolchildren’s afternoon care.  

Lea Pulkkinen has received many awards: the State Award for the life-time work in 2011 and the Finnish Science Prize in 2001 from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture; the Aristotle Prize from the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations in 2003; the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award from the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) in 2005, and the Distinguished Scientific Award for the Application of Behavioral Development from the ISSBD in 2006; and several national awards, including Doctor Honoris Causa in 2009 and the Senior Scientist’s Award from the Finnish Psychological Association in 2010.

Lea Pulkkinen is the chair of a society whose goal is the building of a concert hall in Jyväskylä (Jyväskylän konserttisalin hanketuki ry, www.jyvaskylasali.fi). She is also the chair of a genealogical society for her father’s family (Sukuseura Marttunen ry, http://suvut.genealogia.fi/marttunen).