Postdoc (f/m/div)

Postdoc (f/m/div)

Published Deadline Location
20 Apr 18 Jun Freiburg im Breisgau

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We are looking for a behavioral scientist with a strong empirical background and an interest in virtual reality. You will work with an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers to help develop a new research program studying the psychological mechanisms underlying peer offending through virtual reality.

Job description

The Department of Criminology at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany (Director: Prof. Dr. Dr. Jean-Louis van Gelder) is seeking to recruit a Postdoc (f/m/div) for a project on understanding peer offending through virtual reality.

The challenge

The influence of peers is one of the most important drivers of juvenile delinquency. Several decades of research have taught us that having delinquent friends increases the risk of becoming delinquent oneself and that spending time with delinquent peers increases the likelihood of committing crimes of one's own. These findings hold true across culture, context, and research method. However, prior research has principally relied on introspective and retrospective research methods, such as interviews and panel studies.

Exactly how peers influence each other, i.e., what happens in the moment of decision making, is less well understood. Probably no more than a handful of criminological studies have addressed this question experimentally. “The partners in crime” research program at our Institute will address this challenge through multi-user virtual reality in which peer effects are studied in real-time using virtual environments.

Research within the program will use immersive virtual environments that mimic relevant real-life contexts to study peer influences on unethical and criminal conduct in our world-class VR research facility, the MAXLab Freiburg ( The research program aspires to lead the way to the next generation of peer research in criminology.


Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law


  • a PhD in psychology (e.g., social, developmental), (empirical) criminology, communication science, behavioral economics, sociology, or a similar discipline;
  • a strong publication record;
  • a strong background in statistics;
  • a strong interest in crime research and novel research methods; a highly collaborative attitude: you value team work and enjoy enhancing the work of others and supporting (junior) scientists;
  • experience in leading (small) research teams and research projects;
  • excellent social and communication skills;
  • experience with VR or similar technology.

Ideal candidates are committed to open science and transparent research practices. Speaking German is an asset but not a requisite.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 3 years with the possibility of extension.

Our Institute offers unrivalled research conditions, including access to top-notch laboratory facilities as well as access to exceptional specialist libraries and databases, excellent workspaces, and comprehensive administrative and academic support. Collaboration with other researchers and international partners at the Institute is a key element of our work. Additionally, there are many opportunities for researchers to design, convene, or participate in workshops, seminars, and conferences.

The position is available from the earliest possible starting date and limited to three years with the possibility of extension of up to a maximum of seven years. It is a fully funded research position with no teaching obligations. The position is full-time (currently 39 hours/week). Remuneration and social benefits are based on the German Civil Service Collective Agreement (TVöD Bund), pay category 13 or 14 (entry level depending on prior experience), 100% (see The salary includes all mandatory social insurance contributions for health care, long-term care, unemployment, and retirement.

The workplace is Freiburg im Br. (Germany). We are committed to ensuring a positive work-life balance and offer flexible work options as well as generous opportunities for personal and professional development.

The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer and supports diversity in the workplace. Applications from disabled persons are welcome. We also aim to increase the percentage of female staff in fields in which they are underrepresented and therefore expressly encourage women to apply. Applications are particularly welcome from persons with backgrounds that have so far been underrepresented in science and research with regard to gender, age, professional and cultural background, family situation, sexual orientation, and nationality.


The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law (MPI-CSL) is a recently established European center for research in criminology, public security matters, and criminal law. The Institute is part of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science – Germany’s flagship science organization.

The Department of Criminology of the MPI-CSL offers a highly interdisciplinary and dynamic research environment in which psychologists, sociologists, mathematicians, criminologists, and computer scientists work together to understand the causes and consequences of criminal behavior and to develop effective interventions for the prevention of crime and the facilitation of offender rehabilitation. The department pushes the boundaries of crime research through the application of innovative methods, developmental theories of crime, and real-world application.

The Institute, with its approximately 150 employees, is located in Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany), a dynamic university city with a 900-year history. The city in the trinational border region (Germany, Switzerland, and France) impresses newcomers with its high quality of life and international flair. Freiburg ranks third on Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2022” list of the top ten city destinations in the world.


  • Postdoc; Research, development, innovation
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 39 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • PA MPI 20230420


Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law

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Günterstalstraße 73, 79100, Freiburg im Breisgau

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