PhD Candidate for the Project "The occurrence and impact of greenwashed claims by influencers"

PhD Candidate for the Project "The occurrence and impact of greenwashed claims by influencers"

Published Deadline Location
11 Sep 2 Oct Amsterdam

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Job description

We are looking for a PhD candidate to join a new research project led by Dr. Priska Breves (PI), Prof. dr. Edith Smit, and Dr. Eva van Reijmersdal: “Genuinely green or misleading mirage? The occurrence and impact of greenwashed claims by social media greenfluencers”. The project is embedded in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam. This 4-year PhD project aims to uncover the prevalence of greenwashing among greenfluencers (i.e., influencers who are known for their commitment to sustainability), understand followers' susceptibility to greenfluencers’ claims, and develop and test an intervention strategy to help consumers resist greenwashing more effectively.

The PhD project will focus on three research areas: (1) exploring the occurrence of greenwashing done by greenfluencers, (2) gaining insights into the susceptibility of followers to these claims using theories on parasocial experiences, and (3) developing and validating an intervention strategy. A multi-method approach including content analysis and experimental research will be used to investigate these questions. The project will both have scientific and societal impact, with outreach to interested stakeholders within and outside academia to disseminate the research conclusions. The PhD candidate is expected to also contribute to such outreach activities.

The full description of the project is available upon request. Please e-mail Priska Breves for more information:

What are you going to do?
You will be working on the overarching research question: How often do social media influencers use greenwashing in their sponsored content and how does it impact their followers?

Specifically, the hired PhD candidate will study the severity of the issue as well as followers’ susceptibility and will consequently develop an intervention strategy. The project can be divided into three phases:
  1. Exploring the occurrence of different types of greenwashing distributed by influencers on social media. Additionally, user comments will be analysed to identify persuasive resistance (systematic content analysis).
  2. In the subsequent phase, we will explore followers' susceptibility to different types of greenwashing and examine the influence of user characteristics to provide insights into individuals’ vulnerability to persuasion. Theories on parasocial experiences (parasocial interactions and relationships) and an experimental approach will be used.
  3. Lastly, we aim to develop and validate an intervention strategy empowering consumers to resist greenwashing. The knowledge leveraged in the first and second phase will be used as a foundation for the intervention strategy.

  • Develop, conduct, and publish research on greenwashing distributed by influencers on social media. Complete a PhD dissertation consisting of research articles within the appointment period;
  • Contribute to the public debate and organize outreach activities of the project;
  • Contribute to the overall project in terms of events, research meetings, activities;
  • Collaborate with other researchers involved in this or similar projects (e.g., other PhD candidates, postdocs, international colleagues);
  • Present your work at national and international conferences;
  • Contribute to the vibrant academic life in Amsterdam by attending workshops, meetings, and lectures;
  • Contribute to teaching activities at Bachelor’s level for up to 15% of your time.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


The candidate for this position has a (research) master’s degree in communication science, marketing, media studies, or closely related social or behavioural science field. The candidate has a strong affinity with the topic, excels in research methods, and enjoys working together in a team.

Your experience and profile:
  • a (Research) Master’s degree in Communication Science, Psychology or a related field, or will obtain this degree before the start of the project;
  • a strong interest in and preferably knowledge of the topic of social media (influencer) and/or greenwashing, and can ideally demonstrate this with demonstrable knowledge on this topic (e.g., study assignments, MA thesis)
  • a firm basis in and ideally experience with research methods and data analysis, in particular: content analysis (manual and/or automated), experimentation, and open science principles;
  • preferably experience with the collection of social-media data, for instance via APIs and/or web scraping;
  • strongly committed to methodological rigor and scientific integrity;
  • curious and eager to learn new skills, theoretical perspectives and practical issues;
  • excellent spoken and written command of English (as you will write an English-language dissertation and present at international conferences); being able to speak and write in Dutch is desirable but not essential;
  • excellent social and organizational skills;
  • eager to contribute to the scientific field;
  • motivated to share your knowledge with academic and non-academic audiences;
  • able to work in a team.

Conditions of employment

The starting date is flexible but February 1st, 2024, at the latest. The position concerns temporary employment of 1.0 fte (38 hours per week) for a maximum term of 4 years. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will also be tasked with teaching Bachelor's students. For this position the University Job Classification profile “promovendus” applies.

Your salary will be € 2.770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to € 3.539 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer
  • a position in which initiative and input are highly valued;
  • an enthusiastic and warm team that is open to new colleagues;
  • an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

The project is embedded in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) is the research institute for the Communication Science Department in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam.

About the faculty

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization. The social and behavioral sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 12066


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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