Kenneth Kaye

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Kenneth Kaye

Kenneth Kaye (January 24, 1946 – May 26, 2021[1]) was an American psychologist and writer whose research, books, and articles connect the fields of human development, family relationships and conflict resolution.


Although spanning several professional disciplines, the substantial body of Kaye's work is characterized by family systems theory and by a search for observable, reproducible processes rather than stopping at generalizations about formal properties, for example, of stages in mental or social development.

Kaye was educated at Harvard University (A.B. in English and American Literature, 1966; Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and Education, 1970). Following a Visiting Fellowship at King's College, Cambridge (UK), he taught at the University of Washington (1970–71) and the University of Chicago (Department of Education and Committee on Human Development, 1971–81). From 1982 to 2007 he was an Adjunct Faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry, Northwestern University Medical School.

In later years, Kaye published six books of fiction under the name Ken Kaye.[2]

Research and principal publications[edit]

Early human development[edit]

Beginning with his doctoral dissertation and continuing through the University of Chicago years, 22 of Kaye's published articles[3] addressed the fundamental question, What gives Homo sapiens, uniquely among all other creatures, the ability to learn through imitation, language, and consciousness of a reflecting self? His principal mentors were the social-cognitive psychologist Jerome S. Bruner, British ethologist M.P.M. Richards, and pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton. Elaborated most fully in his book The Mental and Social Life of Babies: How Parents Create Persons,[4] Kaye theorized and demonstrated that those distinguishing psychological powers, rather than developing intrinsically from innate capacities of the human infant biologically reorganizing themselves (Piaget),[5] are shaped gradually by interactions due to the co-evolution of infant behavior and human adult behavior.[6][7][8] Specifically, he traced the development of turn-taking beginning with instinctive maternal responses to physiological/neurological bursts and pauses in neonatal activity,[9] through transactions in which adults adjust to babies' perceived (projected) intentions,[10] to true dialogue which makes symbolic language possible.[11][12]

The Mental and Social Life of Babies appeared in Spanish,[13] Italian,[14] and Japanese[15] editions. Kaye's innovative microanalytic studies of parent-infant interaction in the 1970s have been discussed continuously to the present in hundreds of scholarly papers and books on diverse psychological topics.[16][17][18][19][20][21]

The IQ controversy[edit]

In the mid-1970s, he published 6 articles and book reviews on the controversy triggered by Arthur Jensen's famous Harvard Educational Review article[22] on the heritability of IQ. Kaye's message: "Educational revolution will not come until after educational psychology makes a paradigm shift. Psychology has sold society a dogmatic set of assumptions that preclude beliefs in the educability of children, the potential of curriculum, and the accountability of schools."[23]

The science of human behavior[edit]

Mainly growing out of his research methods in the work on infancy, 6 publications dealt with methodological rigor and interpretive issues in the science of human behavior.[24]

Family therapy and parenting[edit]

Beginning in 1981, Kaye became a licensed clinical psychologist and served on the faculty of the Family Institute of Chicago for several years. His 1984 book Family Rules: Raising Responsible Children.[25] was republished in a mass market edition by St. Martin's Press and an updated edition in 2005.[26]

Family business systems and conflict resolution[edit]

In 1986, Kaye began to specialize his practice in consulting to families who were in business together. He was among the first psychologists to do so, phasing out his general clinical practice by the mid-1990s. By 2009, his published articles in this field[27] equalled in number those in his earlier, academic career. Kenneth Kaye's books in this field are Workplace Wars: Turning Personal Conflict to Productive Teamwork (1994)[28] and The Dynamics of Family Business (2005).[29]


  1. ^ "Kenneth Kaye, January 24, 1946 – May 26, 2021". Evanston Roundtable. June 2021. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Books by Ken Kaye".
  3. ^ "Kenneth Kaye - the Origins of Our Species". Archived from the original on 2015-03-28. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  4. ^ Kaye, K (1982). The Mental and Social Life of Babies. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226428478.
  5. ^ Piaget, J (1952). The Origins of Intelligence in Children. New York: Int'l Universities Press.
  6. ^ International Review of Psychoanalysis 1983, 10:482-484
  7. ^ International Journal of Social Psychiatry, Vol. 32, No. 1, 70-71 (1986)
  8. ^ New York Review of Books 27 October 1983
  9. ^ Kaye, K; Wells, A (1980). "Mothers' jiggling and the burst-pause pattern in neonatal sucking". Infant Behavior and Development. 3: 29–46. doi:10.1016/s0163-6383(80)80005-1.
  10. ^ Kaye, K (1980). "The temporal structure of face-to-face communication between mothers and infants". Developmental Psychology. 16 (5): 454–464. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.16.5.454.
  11. ^ in Bullowa, M (1979). Before Speech. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ Press. pp. 191–206. ISBN 0521220319.
  12. ^ in Olson, D (1980). The Social Foundations of Language and Thought. New York: W W Norton. pp. 211–230. ISBN 0393013030.
  13. ^ Kaye, K (1986). La Vida Mental y Social del Bebé. Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Mexico: Paidos. ISBN 84-75093981.
  14. ^ Kaye, K (1989). La Vita Mentale e Sociale del Bambino. Roma: Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore. ISBN 8870024377.
  15. ^ Kaye, K (1993). [Mental and Social Life of Infants]. ISBN 4623022552.
  16. ^ M. Perlmutter, Parent-child Interaction and Parent-child Relations in Child Development, Lawrence Erlbaum, 1984
  17. ^ D. Stern, The Interpersonal World of the Infant, Basic Books, 2000
  18. ^ T. Power, Play and Exploration in Children and Animals, Lawrence Erlbaum, 2000
  19. ^ C. Moore, The Development of Commonsense Psychology, Routledge, 2006
  20. ^ C. Raeff Always Separate, Always Connected, Routledge, 2006
  21. ^ V. Reddy, How Infants Know Minds, Harvard University Press, 2008
  22. ^ Jensen, A (February 1969). "How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?". Harvard Educational Review. 39: 1–123. doi:10.17763/haer.39.1.l3u15956627424k7.
  23. ^ "Kenneth Kaye - Publications on IQ, race, and culture". Archived from the original on 2011-07-13.
  24. ^ "Science of Human Behavior | Kenneth Kaye".
  25. ^ Kaye, K (1984). Family Rules (1 ed.). New York: Walker. ISBN 0802707718.
  26. ^ Kaye, K (2005). Family Rules. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse. ISBN 9780595351664.
  27. ^ "Kenneth Kaye - Publications on Family Business". Archived from the original on 2009-09-07.
  28. ^ Kaye, K (1994). Workplace Wars. New york: AMACOM. ISBN 0814402151.
  29. ^ Kaye, K (2005). The Dynamics of Family Business. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse. ISBN 9780595357086.