PhD position: Social Influences on Digital Media's Effect on Mental Health

PhD position: Social Influences on Digital Media's Effect on Mental Health

Published Deadline Location
16 Oct 23 Nov Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you interested in studying the effects of digital media use on mental health and well-being? We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student who wants to explore the role of social influence processes in the impact of social and mobile media on mental health outcomes.

In this project, you will address the question whether digital media’s “bad image” changes the effects of digital media use on the individual. Users are often exposed to messages (e.g., through news articles or their family members) that suggest that digital media use is bad for them. Such messages can be understood as social influence mechanisms that can impact how users see their own media use (e.g., as good or bad) and might subsequently change media effects. The general aim of this PhD project is to investigate how such social influence mechanisms shape the effects of social and mobile media use on mental health. Thereby, the PhD project seeks to contribute to the ongoing discussion about the effects of social and mobile media use on mental health, especially by providing guidance about what consequences (overly) negative societal views on social and mobile media could have. Would you like to explore these questions together with our supervision team? Then this PhD position might be for you.

The project is part of the Youth and Media Entertainment Programme Group of the Department of Communication Science. In our programme group, we explore the entertaining role of communication in everyday life studying traditional and new forms of entertainment media. Building on a media psychological orientation, the programme group focuses in particular on children and adolescents. The PhD project will be supervised by Dr. Susanne Baumgartner, Dr. Lara Wolfers, and Dr. Ine Beyens.

What are you going to do?
You will work on three related studies during this PhD project. The project is currently planned to include (1) a representative survey study, (2) a diary study, and (3) an experience sampling study. In the first study, you will develop a questionnaire to investigate how different social influence mechanisms such as direct communication or media reporting impact users’ perception of their social media use (e.g., problematic or not?) and investigate who is the most susceptible to social influence. The later studies are planned to focus on the most susceptible user group. In the daily diary study, you will investigate how social influence impacts users’ perceptions of their social and mobile media use in everyday life. Finally, in the experience sampling study, you will compare the influence of users’ social and mobile media use perceptions to the influence of users’ objectively measured social and mobile media use duration and frequency on mental health.

You will
  • Create, field, and analyze a representative survey study to assess the role of social influence on social media perceptions
  • Review and synthesize the literature surrounding the impact of perceived social and mobile media use on mental health outcomes
  • Design, conduct, and analyze intensive longitudinal data studies assessing social influence processes directly in everyday life using daily diaries, experience sampling, and data donation methods
  • Write up findings for publications in high-impact scientific journals and presenting them at (inter)national conferences.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • a (research) master's degree in communication science or a related social-science field (e.g., psychology, sociology, etc.), or expect to obtain it soon;
  • an interest in topics associated with the digital society or communication technology (or a related field);
  • a demonstrated interest in quantitative methods; experience with data donations, experience sampling methodology (ESM) and/or longitudinal analyses is a plus;
  • skills to handle complex datasets;
  • evidence of English language proficiency (for example, in the form of thesis work or presentations).

What do you have to offer
  • Curious, creative, and interested in learning from different disciplines
  • Adept in quantitative data analysis with a demonstrated ability to learn new techniques
  • Eager to learn new digital data collection methods
  • Resilient in the face of challenges that come with new methodological approaches
  • Able to balance the demands of several tasks (e.g., combining research and teaching) successfully
  • Organized, flexible, and demonstrate attention to detail
  • Able to work independently, and you have a pro-active attitude

Conditions of employment

The planned starting date for this project is 1 February 2024. The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours 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 approximately 10% of teaching of the contract. For this position the PhD Candidate (Promovendus) profile applies.

Your salary will be €2770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3539 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%.

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.

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
  • 12260


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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