Universiteit Leiden

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PhD candidate FutureU research program

21-553 10022
Omvang (fte)
Geplaatst op
2 november 2021
15 december 2021 Vacature gesloten

The Institute of Education and Child Studies at Leiden University’s Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law (Freiburg, Germany) are looking for a

PhD candidate FutureU research program (1.0 FTE)  

Vacancy number 21-553 10022

Are you interested in novel technologies such as virtual reality and smartphone applications and conducting state-of-the-art empirical research? Do you aspire to be a researcher that conducts innovative research with societal relevance? And would you like to gain experience at renowned scientific institutes in the Netherlands and Germany? If the answer to these questions is yes, then this position may be something for you.

This PhD position is part of an international research project that involves the Institute of Education and Child Studies at Leiden University and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law and is led by Prof. dr. Jean-Louis van Gelder.


Project description

Many people are focused on the here and now and often find long-term thinking challenging. Such ‘short-term mindsets’ often result in negative behaviors such as overspending, delinquency, substance use, and reckless decision making. This PhD position is part of a large research program that involves the development of a novel intervention that aims to stimulate long-term thinking and reduce such self-defeating behaviors. The intervention uses virtual reality and a smartphone application to present late adolescents/young adults with a virtual version of their future self and allows them to interact with this future self to make them more aware of the future and more inclined to take the long-term consequences of their behavior into account.


The first year of the 4-year PhD project will be completed at the Institute of Education and Child Studies at Leiden University when most of the data collection will take place. The remaining three years will be carried out at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law in Freiburg, Germany.  

Key responsibilities
As a PhD candidate in this project, your primary tasks are to:

  • contribute to the development of a novel intervention to reduce negative and increase positive behaviors using virtual reality and/or a smartphone application;
  • set up and conduct experiments in the lab and possibly also in the field;
  • investigate the effectiveness of this intervention through large-scale research;
  • manage support staff (including Bachelor/Master students and research assistants);
  • write scientific articles and give presentations at scientific conferences;
  • complete a PhD thesis in line with the research program topic

  Selection criteria
  You have:

  • a Master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g. psychology, child studies). Having a Research Master’s degree is a plus;
  • experience with conducting experiments and quantitative data analysis techniques (e.g., SPSS, R-studio, Mplus);
  • excellent planning skills and are meticulous, proactive, highly motivated and driven to excel.

  You are:

  • interested in technological innovation, such as virtual reality;
  • flexible and enjoy working in teams;
  • fluent in Dutch and English, both in speech and writing.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises five institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 7,000 students and 850 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. For more information, see here. 

The Leiden Institute of Education and Child Studies aims to conduct high-quality research that addresses major social issues including child abuse, the quality of daycare, children’s reading problems, and the early diagnosis of children with severe mental and physical handicaps. The institute cooperates with other institutes believing that an interdisciplinary approach is fundamental to our understanding. Education and research is conducted on a variety of topics ranging from adoption to political behavior. For more information: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/social-behavioural-sciences/education-and-child-studies .

The Criminology Department of the Max Planck Institute in Freiburg is a young and dynamic research unit in one of the leading centers of criminological research in Europe. The institute is part of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, one of the most renowned research organizations in the world. The Criminology department investigates how new technologies, such as virtual reality, can be used to prevent criminal and other types of self-defeating behavior and reduce crime. For more information: see here.
Terms and conditions
The PhD candidate will be appointed at Leiden University for one year (fulltime) in accordance with the CAO Dutch Universities. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility, the PhD trajectory will be continued at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law (Freiburg, Germany) for the remaining three years. During the entire PhD trajectory, the doctoral candidate is enrolled at the Graduate School of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Leiden University. The thesis defense will take place at Leiden University.

The desired starting date is February 1, 2022.

For the part of the PhD trajectory conducted at Leiden University (year 1) the salary is set at Euro 2.434,- gross per month based on a fulltime working week of 38 hours (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities). In addition, Leiden University has good working conditions. For example, there is an end-of-year bonus (8.3%), holiday allowance (8%), excellent additional training facilities, paid parental leave and the option to choose tailor-made terms of employment.  More information can be found at the website.

For the part of the PhD trajectory conducted at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law in Freiburg, Germany (year 2-4), the salary is paid according to the rates for German civil service employees at 65% of E13 Level 1 or Level 2 (TVöD Bund; 2,673.72 or 2,889.89) based on qualifications and previous experience. The salary includes all mandatory social insurance contributions for health care, unemployment and retirement. The appointment is for a maximum of three years.

Both Leiden University and the Max Planck Institute attach great importance to diversity and therefore welcome applications from people who are currently underrepresented in these institutions.


For more information about the content of this position and a description of the project, please contact Prof. dr. Jean-Louis van Gelder, j.l.van.gelder@fsw.leidenuniv.nl.

Please submit your application online no later than December 15, 2021 via the blue button in our application system.
Applicants should submit online
 a letter of interest accompanied by a CV.

Job interviews are planned to take place in January 2022 at Leiden University or online.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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