PhD-student position: The cognitive stress response in daily life

PhD-student position: The cognitive stress response in daily life

Published Deadline Location
7 Sep 13 Oct Enschede

Job description

The experience of stress is an inherent aspect of daily-life. However, can we validly measure this in real life, and how and under what circumstances does it contribute to disease? We are looking for researchers that work on our exciting Stress in Action project.

Stress in Action project:
In this project, 65 multidisciplinary scientists from six Dutch Universities collaborate around the theme ‘stress in daily life’. Divided over three Research Themes and three Support Cores, the Stress in Action consortium will validate daily-life stress assessments, examine which contextual factors contribute to the experience of daily-life stress, and examine how daily-life stress leads to the development of both mental and cardiometabolic diseases. The project is funded through the Dutch Scientific Organization under the Gravitation program. More details can be found here:

What will you be doing?:

As a PhD-student your main mission is to provide the Stress in Action community with tools for the continuous (and reliable) recording of the cognitive stress responses in daily life.

You will start by reviewing the state of the art in active and passive sensing of cognitive aspects of the stress response. This review will focus on constructs underlying and relating to executive function based on both traditional tests as well as passive sensing methods. As an example, you may delve into the potential of passive sensing techniques, such as keystroke dynamics - observing how people type or interact with their smartphones - might provide insight into their cognitive state and potentially reflect varying levels of stress.

Following this foundational work, you will initiate a secondary objective providing the consortium with an up-to-date overview of the best commercially available tools for measuring behavioural stress responses, especially focusing on sleep trackers. The relationship between outcomes from these behavioural tools and the cognitive tools will be explored.

In parallel, you will also start validating the identified cognitive tools through lab and daily life studies. For instance, you could focus on comparing existing adaptations of traditional cognitive tests for smartphones, such as the Stroop test, which measures processes tapping on interference control and reaction time. By deploying such tests at different times, you will investigate how performance varies with stress levels and how passive and active sensing of the cognitive stress response varies over different tools.

You'll harness the potential of these cognitive tools to determine optimal moments for participant responses to experience sampling items or just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAIs).

By the end of the project, you will have contributed substantially to our understanding of the cognitive aspects of the stress response and provided valuable tools and methodologies for researchers in the field.


University of Twente (UT)


  • MSc-degree in (bio or health) psychology, health sciences, statistics, biomedical technology, cognitive neuroscience, computer science or a related discipline (also candidates close to graduating are encouraged to apply)
  • Strong interest in cognitive function and/or stress. A drive to compare and explore different research methodologies and settings
  • Programming skills in Python, R, Matlab or other tools for data analysis
  • Affinity and preferably experience with writing research papers
  • English conversation, writing skills, and presentation skills
  • Communication and social skills related to working in interdisciplinary environments

Conditions of employment

  • As a PhD student at UT, you will be appointed for 38 hours for 4 years (1.0 fte), with a qualifier in the first year, within a very stimulating and exciting scientific environment
  • You will become part of a large and active national community of 20+ PhD-students within the Stress-in-Action programme, 4 of which start within the same Research Theme at around the same time
  • Your salary and associated conditions are in accordance with the collective labour agreement for Dutch universities (CAO-NU)
  • You will receive a gross monthly salary ranging from € 2.770,- (first year) to € 3.539,- (fourth year)
  • There are excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid)
  • You will have a training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision
  • We encourage a high degree of responsibility and independence, while collaborating with close colleagues, researchers and other staff


The section PHT has a focus on the development and evaluation of engaging personalized and adaptive interventions. We have a strong culture of interdisciplinary research within the Health and Institutional Behaviour department to contribute to BMS Faculty themes like health and resilience. We also connect with technological groups like Industrial Design, Human-Media Interaction and Biomedical Signals and Systems in university-wide collaborations such as the TechMed Centre and the Design Lab

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please send your application via the ‘Apply now’ button below before 13-10-2023 and include:
  • A motivation letter
  • A detailed cv
  • Names of 2 people that we can contact for additional information

For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Prof. Matthijs Noordzij,


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1408


University of Twente (UT)

Learn more about this employer


Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you


Apply for this job

Apply for this job

This application process is managed by the employer (University of Twente (UT)). Please contact the employer for questions regarding your application.

Thank you for applying

Please contact the employer for questions regarding your application.

Tip: save this job as favorite in your AcademicTransfer account. This gives you an immediate overview and makes it easy to find the job later on. No account yet? Create it now and take advantage of other useful functionalities too!

Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 13 Oct 2023 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).