Universiteit Leiden

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Postdoc in Cognitive Psychology

Wetenschappelijke functies
Omvang (fte)
0.8 FTE
Intern, Extern
Geplaatst op
11 december 2018
17 januari 2019

Vacature gesloten

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Psychology, the Cognitive Psychology Unit has available a

Postdoc Position in Cognitive Psychology (0.8 FTE)
Vacancy number 5958

Project description

Research Project "Evolutionary insights into the production and perception of expressions of emotions".
During social interactions, humans express and regulate their emotional states as well as process the emotions expressed by others. Importantly, most of these processes occur automatically, without conscious awareness. Although most emotional expressions in the human face are produced spontaneously, the existing literature has largely focused on posed or ‘artificial’ expressions’, which impacts the ecological-validity of the findings. Through a range of experimental studies involving different physiological measures the postdoc will gain insight into these issues. Focussing on explicit emotional signals (e.g. smiles) and implicit cues (e.g. pupil dilation, blush), we aim to identify emotion expressions produced and perceived by humans and systematically compare these to those of our closest living relatives, the bonobos. Bonobos are an ideal model species to reconstruct our last common ancestor and to identify uniquely human features. In addition, we will determine the extent to which culture influences human emotion perception. Combining novel techniques within a comparative multi-disciplinary framework, this project offers an evolutionarily-grounded approach to the origins of human emotion.

This project is supported by an NWO ORA grant to Dr Mariska Kret (Leiden University) and Dr Zanna Clay (Durham University). The project will run in parallel with ongoing projects in the CoPAN lab, directed by Dr Mariska Kret (www.mariskakret.com) ; see also our Copan Leiden Facebook page). The research group participates in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC), an interfaculty center for interdisciplinary research on brain and cognition (www.libc-leiden.nl). For the current position, Dr Kret is looking for a postdoc to be based in the Netherlands, who will focus on the human component predominantly (not necessarily exclusively). In parallel to this project, another project supervised by Zanna Clay will take place mainly in the UK, the Democratic Republic of Congo (studies with local people and bonobo’s) and Rwanda (local population). For further cross-cultural comparisons, the project is in collaboration with Akihiro Tanaka (Tokyo woman's christian university) and Anthony Atkinson (Durham University). The two postdocs closely interact on various occasions and locations.

Key responsibilities

  • Literature study, hypothesis-driven development and execution of experimental studies in the field of emotion production and perception (eye-tracking, thermography, touchscreen studies);
  • Report results at conferences and in at least six international peer-reviewed journals;
  • Supervise BSc and MSc thesis projects;
  • Assist in the ongoing projects of PhD students;
  • Participate in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC).

Selection criteria

  • PhD in experimental psychology;
  • Strong technical skills;
  • Knowledge of multilevel statistics;
  • Programming experience (e.g., Matlab, R, e-prime);
  • Knowledge of psychophysiological methods (e.g., heartrate, facial temperature, eye-tracking and pupillometry, thermography);  
  • Excellent research and writing skills;
  • Excellent command of English.

Our Faculty/Institute

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises four institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology and Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology. The Faculty also includes the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 5,000 students and 600 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. For more information, see http://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/social-behavioural-sciences.

The Institute of Psychology comprises six units for teaching and research: Health, Medical and Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental and Educational Psychology, Social and Organizational Psychology, and Methodology and Statistics. The Institute of Psychology offers a stimulating environment that promotes collaboration within and between units. 

Terms and conditions

We offer a fixed-term position for 2 years, with a possible extension of one more year. If the postdoc is willing to accept teaching duties, the contract may be extended to fulltime employment. Salary range from €2,640 to €4,166 gross per month for a full-time position (pay scale 10 gross per month, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). A part-time position is possible, too. Preferred starting date is March 1st, 2019. Earlier is not possible, later is discussable.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses(8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.


Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries can be made to Dr Mariska Kret, email m.e.kret@fsw.leidenuniv.nl.


Please submit online your application no later than 17 January 2019 via the blue button in our jobs application system. Applicants should submit online a letter of interest (including the vacancy number) accompanied by a CV and a full publication list.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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