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PhD candidate "Coping with the threat of social change: The case of migration"

Wetenschappelijke functies, PhD-posities
Omvang (fte)
Geplaatst op
31 augustus 2021
20 september 2021 Nog 1 dag om te solliciteren

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The section Social and Organisational Psychology of the institute Psychology of the Faculty Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a

PhD candidate "Coping with the threat of social change: The case of migration" 

Project description
Societies undergo rapid changes in the relations between social groups, for example due to migration, shifting gender roles, globalization, crises like Covid-19, and social movements like #BLM. Heated societal debates suggest that social changes are often experienced as threatening, leading to a host of negative consequences like rigidity, polarization, and hostility towards the source of threat. This makes understanding how people cope with social change one of the major challenges of our times. However, how people regulate negative arousal stemming from societal change, and how this in turn shapes opinions, is as yet poorly understood.

The current project aims to develop a psychophysiological threat-and-coping model of social change. Linking social, psychological, and physiological levels of analysis this novel model describes and explains the interplay between lower-level physiological responses, and higher-level information processing, to understand how people form opinions about social change. Moving beyond maladaptive physiological arousal (threat) the possibility will be examined that change can also elicit more benign arousal (challenge) and link this to sensitivity to specific types of arguments (instrumental, moral, identity) and rigidity versus open-mindedness in opinion formation.

In a series of psychophysiological experiments, partly making use of a mobile lab (‘test-van’) to run psychophysiological experiments in the field, hypotheses derived from the model will be tested.

In the current project the focus will be specifically on (dealing with) the threat of migration. (A related PhD project on coping with the threats of diversity- and sustainability policies in organizations will be run simultaneously at Utrecht University.)

The gained insights will be used to inform policy-makers about ways to approach and communicate social change in order to avoid overly rigid and hostile responses.

The PhD-project will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Daan Scheepers and Dr. Ruthie Pliskin.

Key responsibilities
The role of PhD student includes the following tasks:

  • Conducting literature reviews;
  • Designing, executing and coordinating data collection (psychophysiological experiments in both lab and field settings);
  • Initiating and maintaining contact with external parties;
  • Processing the collected data;
  • Analyzing and interpreting the data;
  • Written and oral reporting of the outcomes of the research.

Selection criteria

  • A completed (or almost completed) (research) master in psychology / neuroscience, with interest in or affinity with Social Psychology;
  • Experience and affinity with quantitative research methods (e.g., surveys, lab experiments); experience with psychophysiological and/or neuroscientific methods / analysis techniques is preferred;
  • Competence in statistical data analysis; 
  • A keen interest in both fundamental research and the application of psychological insights to practice;
  • Professional attitude and conduct that includes organizational sensitivity, integrity, pragmatism, and good communication skills;
  • Being organized and decisive;
  • Able to meet tight deadlines;
  • Able to work independently and in a team;
  • A good command of the Dutch and English language;
  • Good academic writing skills.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences conducts high-quality research and offers a broad and disciplinary educational programme, focused on increasing our understanding of current developments in society. The faculty consists of five institutes: Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Cultural Anthropology and Developmental Sociology, Education and Child Studies, Political Science and Psychology. The faculty has approximately 7,000 students and 850 staff members. For more information, please visit the website. 

Diversity and inclusion are cherished as core values at Leiden University. At the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences we strive to create a diverse and inclusive learning and working environment too, in which everyone – no matter who they are or what they do – can feel at home and develop their talents.

Terms and conditions
We offer a full-time position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. The gross income is € 2,395.- per month in the first year, increasing to € 3,061.- (Pay scale P, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). The preferred starting date is 1 November 2021.

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. For more information, see the website.

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

Inquiries can be directed to Daan Scheepers, Leiden University, email scheepersdt@fsw.leidenuniv.nl.

Please submit online your application no later than September the 20th, 2021 via the blue button in our application system. Please upload your motivation letter, a full CV, and contact information of two references.

As indicated above, the current project is part of a larger project for which we are currently hiring a second PhD student at Utrecht University on a project on coping with threats of diversity- and sustainability policies in organizations. If you apply for both positions, please indicate this in your motivation letter, as well as your possible preference for one or the other position. The first round of interviews takes place at the 1st of October 2021 and the second round at the 8st of October. 

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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