Postdoc Psychophysiological markers of societal changes (1.0 FTE)

Postdoc Psychophysiological markers of societal changes (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
8 May 29 May Utrecht

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Are you interested in societal issues and fascinated by psychophysiology? Are you a team-player who gets energized by combining lab and field studies?

Job description

The organisational behaviour group at Utrecht University is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to develop a mobile psychophysiological paradigm for studying societal changes in field settings (e.g., in companies, at festivals, market squares, community centers, schools, etc.). The position is part of a broader NWO-Open Competition project on 'A threat and coping perspective on social change', involving researchers from Utrecht University (PhD project on diversity/ sustainability) and Leiden University (PhD project on migration). In this project we aim to develop a psychophysiological threat-and-coping model of social change. Linking social, psychological, and physiological levels of analysis, the aim with the model is to describe and explain the interplay between lower-level physiological responses and higher-level information processing, to understand how people form opinions about social change. We use the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat, which makes it possible to discern at a physiological level specific motivational states of challenge and threat. We link these more maladaptive (threat) and benign (challenge) stress responses to the development of attitudes about social change in relation to a variety of societally relevant topics (e.g., migration, shifting gender roles, globalization, crises like Covid-19, social movements like #BLM). We furthermore aim to test the model both in more controlled lab experiments as well as field studies, to optimize both internal and external validity, and to more effectively inform interventions for overly defensive responses to inevitable societal changes.

For the field studies in the project we now aim to develop a set-up involving a combination of physiological measures, like impedance cardiography, electrocardiography, blood pressure, and potentially also respiration and skin temperature to differentiate physiological markers of 'challenge' and 'threat'. We aim for a set-up that is easily transportable and relatively non-invasive and easy to use, for example by avoiding overly complex electrode configurations, or applying electrodes under clothing. We furthermore aim to apply this set-up in field studies at a diversity of locations, potentially also making use of a 'test van'.

In the most general sense, the tasks of the postdoc will be two-fold: first, developing and validating a more easy-to-use and less-invasive Threat-Challenge set-up in a lab experiment, comparing it to our standard lab set-up; second, applying it in (at least) two field studies with the two PhD candidates on the project on migration, diversity, and sustainability. The postdoc will be lead author on the validation paper and co-author on the papers about the field studies. The postdoc might also develop an additional field study on a topic of their choice within the broader project. Finally, the postdoc will collaborate with other members of the team in leading workshops and demonstrations in the context of the broader project.


Utrecht University


We are looking for someone with

  • a finished PhD dissertation in (social) psychology, psychophysiology, or neuroscience;
  • experience with psychophysiological measurements, ideally with cardiovascular measures (ECG, ICG, blood pressure);
  • affinity with the topic of social change, e.g., in the context of migration, diversity, or sustainability;
  • experience with psychophysiological data scoring and analysis (e.g., in Matlab, r);
  • experience with programming experiments (e.g., in Python);
  • a good ability to work independently and in a team;
  • a good command of the Dutch and English language;
  • good academic writing skills;
  • publications in relevant international peer-reviewed journals;
  • excellent communicative and organizational skills;
  • a certain assertiveness, extraversion and open-mindedness in engaging with external parties and research participants in field settings.

Conditions of employment

We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for one year in an international working environment. After positive evaluation, this can be turned into a renewal of one year. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between € 2,960, and € 4,670 (scale 10 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including including an attractive retirement scheme, professional development, (partly paid) parental leave, sports and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


Sharing Science, shaping tomorrow. A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Find out more about the university by watching Utrecht University Campus Tour on our social media channel.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in cultural anthropology, educational sciences, interdisciplinary social science, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. Almost 7,000 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 1,100 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues.

The faculty strives for diversity among its employees and students and is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, as can be read in Utrecht University's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.

The faculty attaches great importance to the fact that its employees can be widely deployed in the university organization, now and in the future, to further professionalize the support of education and research. To encourage this, every employee is given the time and facilities – for example in the form of training – at some point in their career to participate in projects or work in other departments. Characteristics that the faculty considers important are involvement, the ability to collaborate and flexibility.

The faculty is located at Utrecht Science Park near the historical city centre of Utrecht.

The organisational behaviour group focuses on two themes in which fundamental scientific research is directly linked to applications and interventions in the fields: Diversity & Inclusion and Integrity & Ethical behaviour. In addition, the members of the research group consider it important to focus on forming interdisciplinary partnerships and insights, strengthening external visibility of scientific activities, and staying connected to the organisational practice. For example, the multidisciplinary collaboration is anchored within the UU-strategic theme Institutions, and in the NWO Gravitation program (SCOOP). There are also partnerships with the Netherlands Inclusiveness Monitor (NIM), the START Foundation, the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). Such partnerships also generate opportunities for data collection in the field and allocation of resources or co-sponsoring to conduct scientific (PhD) research.


  • Postdoc
  • Behaviour and society
  • 30—38 hours per week
  • €2960—€4670 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 1209603



Heidelberglaan 1, 3584 CS, Utrecht

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