PhD Affect-Sensitive Systems

PhD Affect-Sensitive Systems

Published Deadline Location
28 Oct 30 Nov Delft

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Do you believe that systems can better assist people by being aware of and adapting to their affect? And do you want to design such systems in a responsible way? Then apply and join us at TU Delft.

Job description

Affective states, such as feeling, moods and emotions, play crucial roles in our lives. They influence our cognitive processes (e.g. attention, memory and learning , problem-solving, decision making), as well as our social lives and well-being. The ability to express, recognize, and react to affective states, social signals and social behaviours is at the core of social and emotional intelligence. Such skills are a key ingredient of success in life and can be useful in many types of situations and interactions. Machines however, are (to a large degree) socially and emotionally ignorant. While for many applications that is very practical, there are domains that could benefit from having machines aware of human affective states and social behaviour. This PhD project focuses on developing systems that are aware of, and adapt to, human affect, and on designing socially interactive technology that supports human needs. Considered applications include technological solutions for (mental) health and well-being, support in education, meetings and teamwork, serious gaming and human-machine interaction in general.

Understanding affective states is key in providing responses that suit individual needs, in providing personalised support, taking context into account. Over the past decades, important advancements have been made in Affective Computing - the discipline focusing on the study and design of systems that recognize, interpret and simulate affect. For example, machines can now automatically recognize observable emotional behaviours, like a smile or a frown. However, an open challenge remains making human-like inferences about users' internal states, such as being able to tell when people are happy even if they are not smiling, or that people are smiling just to be polite. Another challenge is that users can only be supported and empowered by an affect-sensitive system if two important conditions are met: the designed interventions have the desired supportive ability, and the systems are designed such that people will want to use them and engage with them.

You will contribute to advancing the State of the Art in Affective Computing by developing machine learning and information fusion models to infer affective state based on verbal, non-verbal and possibly bio-signals. You will be actively engaging stakeholders in co-designing your systems.

As a researcher in this position you will work closely together with dr. Iulia Lefter, Prof. Frances Brazier and Prof. Martijn Warnier. There are opportunities to teach and supervise students in collaboration with your supervisor.

This position will be fulfilled within the department of Multi-Actor Systems, section Systems Engineering, at Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. The position will be affiliated with the Participatory Systems Lab


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • MSc degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction or a related field;
  • Experience with machine learning and multimodal signal processing;
  • Affinity with Psychology, Human-Centred Design and Participatory Design;
  • Interest or experience with research collaboration with other researchers and external stakeholders, as a team player;
  • High motivation and a curious and critical mindset.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

With its excellent education and research at the intersection of technology, society and policy, the Faculty of TPM makes an important contribution to solving complex technical-social issues, such as energy transition, mobility, digitalisation, water management and (cyber) security. We combine insights from the engineering sciences, the social and the humanities. We develop robust models and designs, are internationally oriented and have an extensive network with knowledge institutions, companies, social organisations and governments.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD02986


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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