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ISSBD - History

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While the idea for a society devoted to the study of behavioural development emerged in 1957 at the XV International Congress of Psychology in Brussels, it was not established officially until May 3l, 1969.

During the intervening 12 years, the idea was fostered by a group of European investigators who were conducting collaborative multi-national studies on somatic, social, and cognitive development.

Beginning in the mid- 1960s, this group convened a series of meetings to discuss the objectives, constitution, and program activities for the new society, which was founded at the University of Bonn, 1969. Since 1971, the ISSBD has held 21 Biennial Meetings on six continents: eleven in Europe, five in North America, two in Asia, one in South America, one in Australasia and one in Africa. Approximately 200 people attended the first meeting in Nijmegen, the Netherlands; while the most recent meetings have attracted more than 1,000 participants. Biennial Meetings of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development have been held as follows:

1971: Nijmegen, Netherlands

1973: Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

1975: Guildford, UK

1977: Pavia, Italy

1979: Lund, Sweden

1981: Toronto, Canada

1983: Munich, Germany

1985: Tours, France

1987: Tokyo, Japan

1989: Jyvaskyla, Finland

1991: Minneapolis, USA

1993: Recife, Brazil

1994: Amsterdam, Netherlands

1996: Quebec City, Canada

1998: Berne, Switzerland

2000: Beijing, China

2002: Ottawa, Canada

2004: Ghent, Belgium

2006: Melbourne, Australia

2008: Wűrzburg, Germany

2010: Lusaka, Zambia

2012: Edmonton, Canada

2014: Shanghai, China

2016: Vilnius, Lithuania

Among the Society's proudest achievements are the workshops and special conferences that the ISSBD has supported with expertise and partial funding. Over its 40-year history, the ISSBD has sponsored over 20 regional workshops to advance its mission to include and engage a global community of developmental scholars, including workshops in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Australasia, and Southeast Asia. The ISSBD has repeatedly proven itself to be an effective medium for scientific exchange. Its influence can be seen through increased investigator interest in cross-cultural and cross-national studies of behavioural development and through the numerous international research efforts originating from ISSBD meetings and workshops. For more detail on Biennial Meetings click here and for information on Regional Workshops click here.

By Willard W. Hartup

Willard W. Hartup, PhD, former ISSBD President, is Regents' Professor of Child Psychology at the University of Minnesota Institute for Child Development.

Hartup, W. W. (1996). The International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development after 25 years: Retrospect and Prospect. International Journal of Behavioral Development. Vol 19(2), 243-254

Silbereisen, R. K. (2003). The International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development. In J. R. Miller, R. M. Lerner, L. B. Schiamberg & P. M. Anderson (eds.), Human ecology: An encyclopedia of children, families, communities, and environments. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio.

ISSBD Past Presidents


Name Country Time Period
Hans Thomae Germany 1969 – 1975
Jan de Wit The Netherlands 1975 – 1979
Willard Hartup USA 1979 - 1983
Paul Baltes Germany 1983 – 1987
Harold W. Stevenson USA 1987 – 1991
Lea Pulkkinen Finland 1991 – 1996
Harry McGurk1 United Kingdom 1996 – 1998
Ken Rubin          Canada 1998 – 2002
Rainer K. Silbereisen Germany 2002 – 2006
Anne C. Petersen USA 2006 – 2010
Wolfgang Schneider Germany 2010 – 2014

History of ISSBD Awards and List of Awardees

From 2004, ISSBD instigated a series of awards to scholars in the field of behavioral development. Click here for more information about the history of the ISSBD awards and list of awardees.

Lifetime Member Awards

The Award of Lifetime Membership is in recognition of services to ISSBD and the field of lifespan developmental science. The criteria for awarding a Lifetime Membership Award are as follows:

  • The recipient has been an ISSBD member for a long period of time, normally at least 30 years, and will normally be retired
  • Evidence of substantive contributions to ISSBD over time – e.g. membership of committees; presentation of keynote addresses at biennial meetings; attendance at Biennial Meetings; publication of papers in IJBD
  • Evidence of significant contributions to developmental science – recognition within the field through prestigious appointments and/or honours; publication record and citations

Current Lifetime Member Awards

Jacqueline Goodnow, Australia (deceased): awarded 2013
Willard Hartup, University of Minnesota: awarded 2013
Rolf Oerter, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich: awarded 2013
Sir Michael Rutter, Kings College London: awarded 2013
Anne Petersen, University of Michigan: awarded 2015
Rainer Silbereisen, University of Jena: awarded 2015
Barry Schneider, University of Ottawa: awarded 2015
Zhaolan Meng, Peking University, awarded 20155

ISSBD Fellows in 2015

We are delighted to announce the first cohort of ISSBD Fellows, awarded in 2015. ISSBD Fellow status is awarded to ISSBD Members who have made sustained outstanding contributions to the field of lifespan human development in the areas of research and/or application. A major feature of ISSBD Fellows is the representativeness of international scholars and international contributions to the advancement of the field.

Ann Sanson
Anne Petersen
Avshalom Caspi
Barry Schneider
Biao Sang
Bill Bukowski
Bill Hartup
Catherine Cooper
Heidi Keller
Ken Rubin
Lea Pulkkinen
Marcel van Aken
Nancy Eisenberg
Nancy Galambos
Rachel Seginer
Rainer Silbereisen
Richard Tremblay
Robert Serpell
Terrie Moffitt
Willem Koops
Wolfgang Schneider
Wyndol Furman
Zhaolan Meng



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