Kuva: Liisa Takala
Picture of Agora

Lea Pulkkinen

Professor of Psychology, Emerita
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
lea.r.pulkkinen[at]jyu.fi or lea.pulkkinen[at]psyka.jyu.fi
Born October 29, 1939, Lahti, Finland
Maiden name Marttunen; Pitkänen 1961–1975; Pulkkinen 1975 –
Present residence: Helsinki, Finland

Education, academic positions, and professional service

Dr. Lea Pulkkinen is Professor of Psychology, Emerita, at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland (https://www.jyu.fi). She took her PhD at this university in 1969 and did her postdoctoral studies in the UK, at the University of Sussex (see: http://users.jyu.fi/~leapulkk Biographical Sketch). 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 since 1961 in different positions from research assistant to Academy Professor (1996) until her mandatory retirement in 2004. She served as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Head of the Department of Psychology, Founding Director of the Family Research Center, and Deputy Director of the Agora Center (established for human-centered information technology).

Lea Pulkkinen is doctor honoris causa at the University of Joensuu, Finland, and a member of the Academia Europaea and the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. She was President of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development (ISSBD) from 1991 to 1996. She has served on several European Expert Panels and Advisory Boards, such as the Evaluation Panel of Psychological Research in all Dutch universities in 2017, and at Uppsala University, Sweden, in 2007, 2011, and 2017, and on numerous national committees, such as the Science and Technology Policy Council of Finland chaired by the Prime Minister; the Board of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters; and the Board of Governors of Statistics Finland. For her service tasks, see Biographical Sketch and CV suomeksi, http://users.jyu.fi/~leapulkk.

Lea Pulkkinen received the Academy Award 2023 for life’s work from the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, and the State Award for Lifetime Achievement 2011 for information disclosure; the Finnish Science Award 2001; Aristotle Prize in 2003 from the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA); Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award 2005 from the Society for Research in Child Development, USA; and other awards and distinctions as listed in Biographical Sketch.

Research work

Lea Pulkkinen was Director of a National Centre of Excellence for Research (entitled Human Development and Its Risk Factors) funded by the Academy of Finland and the University of Jyväskylä from 1997 to 2005. There were three major research areas in the Centre: Longitudinal study of personality and social development, longitudinal study of dyslexia, and longitudinal study of social behavior and health in twin children. Vice director was professor Heikki Lyytinen who was responsible for studies on dyslexia. Lea Pulkkinen was responsible for the rest.

The ongoing Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Personality and Social Development (JYLS), in Finnish shortly: Lapsesta aikuiseksi (From a child to an adult), began as Lea Pulkkinen’s doctoral dissertation (in 1969). There she had studied the significance of emotion and behavior regulation for interindividual differences in socioemotional behavior of children at age 8. She followed the development of the same children (N = 369, 52% males, b. 1959) from early school age to middle age (at ages 8, 14, 20, 27, 36, 42, and 50) in personality, education and career, psychological and social functioning, and health and health behavior. A comprehensive summary of the results was published in a book: Pulkkinen, L. (2017). Human development from middle childhood to middle adulthood: Growing up to be middle-aged. (In collaboration with Katja Kokko.) London: Routledge. Open access: www.doi.org/10.4324/9781315732947.

She was the Principal Investigator of the JYLS until 2012. Her successor as Principal Investigator is Dr. Katja Kokko, Research Director at the Gerontology Research Centre, University of Jyväskylä. She has organized data collection at participant age 61. 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 has also been involved as a Co-Principal Investigator with Jaakko Kaprio, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at the University of Helsinki in the Longitudinal Study of Health and Behavior in Finnish Twins (FinnTwin 12). The Principal Investigator of this twin study has been Richard J. Rose, Professor of Psychology and Medical Genetics at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. The project was funded by the US National Institute of Health and the Academy of Finland. See: Rose, R. J. et al. (2019). FinnTwin12 Cohort: An updated review. Twin Research and Human Genetics 22(5), 1–10. DOI: 10.1017/thg.2019.83.

For the application of research findings to children’s behavior, Lea Pulkkinen has directed a research project entitled Promotion of an integrated school day in which extracurricular activities are arranged within school days, see: http://users.jyu.fi/~leapulkk Biographical Sketch. In Finland, interest groups have been supervised in the evenings and many children have spent their afternoons without adults at present because parents generally work whole time and school days are shorter. After years of work, a legislation (in 2023) mandates activities towards the direction of the integrated school day.

Her applied work has specifically aimed at advancing children’s psychological development and well-being at home and school, see: Pulkkinen. L. (2022). Lapsen hyvinvointi alkaa kodista. [A child’s well-being begins at home.] Jyväskylä: PS-kustannus. She has recently also co-edited a textbook: Pulkkinen, L., Ahonen, T. & Ruoppila, I. (eds.) (2023). Ihmisen psykologinen kehitys [Human psychological development]. 10th revised edition. Jyväskylä: PS-kustannus.

Her publications, see: Publications, http://users.jyu.fi/~leapulkk number up to 600 and cover, in addition to scientific articles in international journals, books and other writings in Finnish for the dissemination of research-based knowledge on human development to people working with humans in different fields. The publications are listed in different categories year by year in a descending order. The lists reveal how research work has progressed with permanent and changing collaborators from the study of childhood aggression to adult functioning in many fields and from individual differences to behavior genetic studies on factors affecting behaviors.

Biographical information

Lea Pulkkinen has written a biographical book in Finnish, Pulkkinen, L. (2022). Tutkijan omakuva. [Self-portrait of a scientist.] Helsinki: Teos, in which she describes how different trajectories of her life have intertwined. Biographical publications in English are:

Updated September 12, 2023