Human Development and Its Risk Factors


The Ministry of Education approved the Human Development and Its Risk Factors Programme as the first national Centre of Excellence of research at the University of Jyväskylä for the years 1997–1999. The national Finnish Centre of Excellence (CoE) policy was formulated during these years, a consequence of which was that the appointment of the CoEs was delegated to the Academy of Finland. The Academy of Finland renewed the Human Development and Its Risk Factors Programme’s Centre of Excellence status for the years 2000–2005.

The Director of the Centre was Professor Lea Pulkkinen and the Vice-Director was Professor Heikki Lyytinen. The Centre’s staff - including researchers, doctoral students, and auxiliary personnel - annually generated approximately 40 working years. The Centre’s main funding agencies were the Academy of Finland and the University of Jyväskylä.

Longitudinal studies, meaning collecting data about the same individuals several times over a period of many years, are needed for the study of continuity in human behaviour and the factors associated with development; cross-sectional studies cannot provide the same information. A longitudinal approach has been characteristic of the Human Development and Its Risk Factors Programme. The core of the Centre’s work was formed by three extensive long-term longitudinal studies, which covered human development from birth to middle age:



Other studies were also carried out at the Centre that connected to the major longitudinal studies; for example, the MUKAVA project including a three-year intervention study for the development of an integrated school day funded by SITRA (the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development), and the study on playing electronic games.

An overview of the JYLS and FinnTwin12 studies and their recent results is presented in the book: Pulkkinen, L., Kaprio, J., & Rose, R. J. (Eds.) (2006). Socioemotional Development and Health from Adolescence to Adulthood. New York: Cambridge University Press.