Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı (1940-2017) was a social, cross-cultural and developmental psychologist who played a significant role in the development of psychology in Turkey as a scientific discipline with widespread societal implications and the internalization of the psychological science across the world.
After receiving her PhD in social psychology from UC Berkeley in 1967, Kağıtçıbaşı returned to Turkey to start her academic career at the Middle Eastern Technical University (1969-1973), followed by positions at Boğaziçi University (1974-1995) and Koç University (1995-2017). Kağıtçıbaşı’s early research in the Value of Children Project led her to develop the Theory of Family Change where she took a longitudinal perspective of change in family dynamics and roles. In her related work1, she has produced a theoretical analysis of the development of an autonomous-related self where she analyzed the self in the larger cultural context that affords both autonomy and emotional interdependence. In both lines of research, she situated family relationships and the development of the self in long-term changes in socio-ecological factors such as urbanization and socio-economic development. Kağıtçıbaşı’s research was supported by funds from, among others, the Jacob’s Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, the Turkish Ministry of Education, the UNICEF, and German Research Council.
Kağıtçıbaşı applied her theoretical work in projects conducted at the Mother and Child Education Foundation (MOCEV)2 which she co-founded in 1993. For example, with her colleagues she started the Turkish Early Enrichment Program (TEEP), a country-wide intervention project aimed to contribute to the development of preschool children of low socio-economic groups and to better equip their parents through mother-father support programs to contribute to their children’s cognitive and social development. She also founded and directed the Koç University Center for Gender Studies.
Alongside research, Kağıtçıbaşı played an active role in serving in associations that promoted diversity in and internalization of research. She served as Vice President of the International Union of Psychological Science and International Social Science Council, and was elected as the first female president of the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology in 1990. Her contributions made her the recipient of several awards including the APA’s and International Association of Applied Psychology’s Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology Awards and the UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Sustained Development. She also held positions as Fellow of the International Association of Applied Psychology, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, and the World Academy of Sciences for the Advancement of Science in Developing Countries and contributed to the editing of major resource pieces such as the Handbook of Cross-Cultural Psychology3 and Understanding Social Psychology across Cultures4.
Kağıtçıbaşı’s elegant cross-fertilization of basic research and application in the real world within the larger societal context, her persistent questioning of the relevance of mainstream psychology to the majority (non-Western) world and determination to push for an agenda in psychological science that takes diversity across the world seriously, and her stance as a woman in a largely male-dominated discipline as she progressed in her career will shape the theorizing and empirical research of many in Turkey and across the world.
- Kağıtçıbaşı, Ç. (2017). Family, self, and human development across cultures: Theory and applications. Routledge.
- Berry, J. W., Segall, M. H., Kagitcibasi, C. (Eds.) (1997). Handbook of cross-cultural psychology, Vol.3. Social behavior and applications (2nd ed.). Allyn and Bacon.
- Smith, P., Bond, M. & Kağıtçıbaşı, Ç. (Eds.) (2006). Understanding social psychology across cultures: Living and working in a changing world, 3rd Ed. Sage.