A PhD candidate investigating user perceptions of the impact of automated decision-making algorithms in mHealth on public values (0,8 – 1,0 fte)

A PhD candidate investigating user perceptions of the impact of automated decision-making algorithms in mHealth on public values (0,8 – 1,0 fte)

Published Deadline Location
14 Apr 29 May Rotterdam

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 29 May 2023).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Join us in investigating public values in the algorithmic society
Ever thought of the implications of algorithms in your healthy lifestyle apps? Thought about how those algorithms might impact public values such as users’ privacy and autonomy? Do you have a drive to figure out where algorithmic automated decision systems will take society next and how other people see this? Then a PhD position in our AlgoSoc community is what you have been looking for!

Job description

Over the past years, the use of everyday healthy lifestyle apps (e.g, Apple Health, Samsung Health, Health Connect, Garmin Connect) has increased dramatically. Many of these mHealth apps collect and generate a large and diverse amount of personal and health data to optimise algorithms that make automated decisions for their users that should benefit their health (e.g., virtual health coaches recommending activities to individual users). mHealth apps that use algorithmic ‘automated decision systems’ (ADS) present both opportunities and risks for public values. Such apps may contribute positively to public values such as enjoying good physical and mental health, while negatively impacting other public values such as privacy (e.g., informational privacy, psychological privacy) and autonomy (e.g., behavioural autonomy).

This project examines how ADS-based mHealth apps can increase opportunities and minimise risks for public values. In other words, how can the desired effects of ADS-based mHealth apps be optimised while minimising the potential threat to public values? The project specifically focuses on user perceptions on the opportunities and risks that ADS-based mHealth apps present for public values. It also aims to understand drivers of user perceptions, including personal characteristics such as one’s level of algorithm and data literacy and personal values or beliefs. The project takes a transdisciplinary cocreative approach, actively involving stakeholders (e.g., end-users, prevention practitioners & policy makers) as co-researchers. Additionally, the project adopts a mixed-method approach in which qualitative participatory research and quantitative research methodologies (e.g., longitudinal survey) are combined.

This project is part of the Gravitation programme Public Values in the Algorithmic Society (AlgoSoc). The Gravitation programme is an initiative by the Dutch government to support excellent research in the Netherlands. The funding is reserved for scientific consortia that have the potential to rank among the world's best in their field. AlgoSoc is a response to the urgent need for an informed societal perspective on automated decision making. Funded by the ministry for Education, Culture and Science for a period for 10 years, research in the AlgoSoc programme will be grounded in a deep understanding of the systemic changes that automated decision making entails for core public institutions, for society, and for how public values are realised. The research will focus on three sectors: health, justice, and media. The programme brings together researchers in law, communication science, computer science, philosophy, public governance, economy, psychology and sociology from five Dutch universities (Amsterdam, Utrecht, Tilburg, Delft and Rotterdam). Together, the AlgoSoc community will develop solutions for the design of governance frameworks needed to complement technology-driven initiatives in the algorithmic society.

The current position is part of the AlgoSoc health sector and is located in Rotterdam. As a PhD candidate, you will get the unique opportunity to help shape the research programme with your research plan. Closely collaborating with your fellow PhDs and postdoc researchers, and mentored by top scholars from various disciplines, you are encouraged and supported to design and conduct your own PhD project.

What you are going to do:

  • Develop, conduct, and publish research on the perceived impact of automated decision-making algorithms in mHealth for public values.
  • Contribute to the public debate and organise outreach activities of AlgoSoc.
  • Contribute to the overall programme in terms of community building, events, research meetings, and activities.
  • Collaborate with other researchers within the AlgoSoc consortium.
  • Give guest-lectures in the area of your expertise at Bachelor’s and Master’s level.
  • Help co-supervising research projects of undergraduate students working on related topics.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)


We expect you to have:

  • A clear research interest in the topic of the project.
  • Experience with various social science methodological skills, preferably including quantitative and qualitative methods (e.g., survey, experiments, focus groups, co-creation).
  • A good written and spoken command of English (a basic command of Dutch is preferred, given the interaction with the target audience).
  • The ability, willingness, and commitment to do autonomous work in a multidisciplinary team that includes legal scholars, communication scholars, ethicists and data scientists.
  • Experience with organising workshops or similar events.

If the vacancy appeals to you, but you are doubting whether you might be THE person we are looking for, please do apply. We encourage all qualified applicants, including minorities, women, people with disabilities, and members of other groups underrepresented in academia. We wish to create a consortium that consists of persons who each contribute in their unique way to the team. Complementarity and not homogeneity is what we are looking for.  

Developing a societal vision on automated decision systems concerns us all. We believe that a diversity of perspectives in our consortium will be important in developing an inclusive societal vision and strive therefore also in our hiring policy for encouraging applicants from diverse backgrounds. We are committed to creating an environment of mutual respect, inclusiveness, equal opportunities with room for situated experiences, diverse perspectives, and ideas to flourish. This commitment applies to our research, organisation, room for flexibility, training, and community activities as well as our hiring strategy.

Conditions of employment

As PhD candidate you will:

  • Get the opportunity to develop your PhD project, in collaboration with top talent peers and senior scholars from various disciplines.
  • Follow a training in the AlgoSoc early career researcher programme and the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities.
  • Get supervision and mentorship from top scholars.
  • Get access to societal stakeholder network.
  • Work in a supportive, inspiring, collaborative, and flexible working environment.
  • Work in a dynamic and inspiring urban environment in the bustling hyper-diverse city of Rotterdam.
  • Have an internationally oriented and varied job in an enthusiastic team, with good working conditions in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU).

The start date of this position is Autumn 2023 and you will be based at the Erasmus AiPact Initiative at Woudestein campus, Rotterdam. The position is for 0.8-1.0 FTE. We offer an appointment as PhD student for a period of 1.5 year, which will be extended with a second term of 2.5 years after positive evaluation. The salary will range from € 2541 in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year gross per month on a fulltime basis, in accordance with scale P of the CAO-NU. In addition, we offer an 8% holiday allowance, an end-of-year payment of 8.3%, and a very generous paid leave scheme. Furthermore, EUR is affiliated with ABP for the pension provision, and we offer partially paid parental leave, fully paid extended birth leave for partners, a personal career budget, work-life balance coaches, discounted collective health insurance, and more. As an employee, you can also use EUR facilities such as the University library and receive a discount on subscriptions for the Erasmus sports centre.

Erasmus University Rotterdam offers a Dual Career Programme (DCP) to assist the life partners of new academic staff (on payroll) in finding employment in The Netherlands. The programme is offered in close cooperation with the nearby universities of Delft and Leiden.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is an internationally oriented university with a strong social orientation in its education and research, as expressed in our mission ‘Creating positive societal impact’. EUR is home to 3.700 academics and professionals and almost 33.000 students from more than 140 countries. Everything we do, we do under the credo The Erasmian Way – Making Minds Matter. We’re global citizens, connecting, entrepreneurial, open-minded, and socially involved. These Erasmian Values function as our internal compass and create EUR’s distinctive and recognizable profile. From these values, with a broad perspective and with an eye for diversity, different backgrounds and opinions, our employees work closely together to solve societal challenges from the dynamic and cosmopolitan city of Rotterdam. Thanks to the high quality and positive societal impact of our research and education, EUR can compete with the top European universities. www.eur.nl.


Erasmus Initiative Societal Impact of AI (AiPact) and Erasmus Movez Lab

As an EUR AlgoSoc researcher, you will be part of the Erasmus Initiative ‘Societal Impact of AI' (AiPact). AiPact is a transdisciplinary initiative to co-create the conditions for artificial intelligence in society, involving all stakeholders. You will be part of our dynamic and enthusiastic interdisciplinary team addressing societal challenges. Follow AiPact on Linkedin and Medium for our activities.

AiPact is one of four spearhead initiatives of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The Erasmus Initiatives streamline our academic activities to increase the social and economic impact of our work. The connection and interaction between science and society, between theory and practice, are part of our DNA. Talented researchers who enter international collaborations with an open mind move science forward. The Erasmus Initiatives join forces for science that matters. The Erasmus Initiative Societal Impact of AI (AiPact) is embedded in the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics (ECDA).

As an EUR AlgoSoc researcher, you will also be part of the Erasmus Movez Lab. Together with the partners within the Movez Network, the Erasmus Movez Lab conduct research on the themes of youth, well-being, and digital media. Thereby connecting research, education, and society.


  • PhD
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • €2540—€3246 per month
  • University graduate
  • ESSB/PhD/algosoc/13042023


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Learn more about this employer


Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062 PA, Rotterdam

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you