Leon Kuczynski

Leon Kuczynski
Professor, FRHD
Department of Family Relations & Applied Nutrition
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x52421
Macdonald Institute, Room 233

Area: FRHD

Reserach Description: Dr. Leon Kuczynski is a developmental psychologist who does empirical and theoretical research on parent-child interactions and relationships. He is interested in dynamic bidirectional processes in parent-child interactions and relationships in areas such as socialization, social development and relationship formation. Currently, his research focuses on dynamic approaches to socialization in childhood and adolescence, and international collaborative research on the application of his social relational theory in social work and family therapy.

PhD - University of Toronto

I do empirical and theoretical research on children’s socialization in the context of parent-child relationships. My research focuses on children’s agency and influence within a dialectical model of bidirectional influence between parents and children. My empirical research includes topics such as children’s resistance, children’s internalization of values, parent-child intimacy, responsive parenting, and the relationship as context for parent-child dynamics. I have conducted research on nonclinical families as well as families undergoing adversities such as parental depression, child abuse, conduct disorder, and multi-stressed families and foster children. I am also interested in family dynamics as it pertains to culture (e.g. China, Singapore, Jamaica) and immigrant family acculturation. In my theoretical research I developed two theoretical frameworks, the bilateral model of parent-childrelations and social relational theory which provide a comprehensive approach to understanding bidirectional causality and transactional processes in the context of long-term, interdependent, and culturally embedded parent-child relationships.

Post doc – National Institutes of Mental Health – Bethesda, Maryland 1979-1985

PhD – Department of Psychology  - University of Toronto, 1979

Masters – Department of Psychology - University of Toronto – 1973

Kuczynski, L., Pitman, R., Ta-Young, L. Harach, L. (2016). Children’s Influence on parents’ adult development:  Mothers’ and fathers’ receptivity to children’s requests for change.  Journal of Adult Development, 23:193–203.

Kuczynski, L., & De Mol, J. (2015). Dialectical Models of Socialization. In  W. F. Overton & P. C. M. Molenaar (Eds.). Theory and Method.  Volume 1 of the Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science. (7th ed., pp. 326-368), Editor-in-Chief: Richard M. Lerner.  Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Kuczynski, L. & Knafo, A. (2014).  Innovation and continuity in socialization, internalization and acculturation. In M. Killen and J.G. Smetana (Eds.). Handbook of Moral Development, 2nd edition (pp. 93-112) Taylor and Francis Publishers.

See Academia.edu for a full list of publications 

What are the qualities of a student who would be successful in your lab?

  • A successful student on my research team has research experience and appreciates the role of theory as an essential component of methodology. The student should be interested in applying social relational theory to a wide variety of topics of family life, including clinical and other applications.   Experience with qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods is an asset.

How would you describe your mentoring style?

  • I work closely with my graduate students, typically meeting once a week.  Our discussions often are aided by concept mapping software with whimsical forays into discussions of travel , experimental cooking, and adventurous eating.  My approach is to initially scaffold students as they develop their direction and approach and then go along for the ride as students take the driver’s seat.  

Is there anything else you’d like your potential students to know?

  • I have a backlog of data that can serve as a source of projects outside of the students’ thesis research.

I am currently analyzing and developing articles from a major qualitative project on Socialization in Middle Childhood. These include mother and child interviews and diary data  and can serve as source of projects beyond the students’ thesis research.

I am engaged in international interdisciplinary collaborations with scholars interested in applying social relational theory to disciplines such as family therapy, social work and communication research.

I am a collaborator on a new qualitative and longitudinal study,: Identifying Positive Adaptive Pathways in Low-income families in Singapore (Esther Goh, National University of Singapore