PhD candidate in Neuroscience of the Tax Profession (1.0 FTE)

PhD candidate in Neuroscience of the Tax Profession (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
4 Jun 24 Jun Leiden

Job description

PhD candidate in Neuroscience of the Tax Profession (1.0 FTE)
Vacancy number: 14926

The Department of Tax Law of Leiden Law School at Leiden University, in collaboration with the Psychology Institute, has a vacancy for a PhD Candidate (1.0 fte)

Are you interested in the neural processes that support corporate tax avoidance by professionals? Are you a student of psychology, cognitive neuroscience or tax law who wants to apply insights from the field to real-world problems? Consider applying, and gain skills and knowledge to conduct cutting-edge multidisciplinary research on emotion and cognition in the context of the tax profession.

What you will do
As a PhD candidate you will work on a four-year research project in the department of Tax Law at the Faculty of Law and the department of Social, Economic and Organizational Psychology at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. This PhD project will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team consisting of dr. Elody Hutten, prof. dr. Jan Vleggeert, dr. Lotte van Dillen, and dr. Gert-Jan Lelieveld. While the position is offered by the department of Tax Law, you will work on the project in both departments. Your role will involve:
  • Conducting a literature review
  • Designing and conducting experiments for multiple methods such as fMRI and eye-tracking.
  • Analyzing data (survey, eyetracking, as well as fMRI data)
  • Writing scientific articles and communicating your results to the broader public

The Project
Taxation can be seen as a form of social cooperation, whereby individuals agree to pay taxes in exchange for public services and goods. Individuals’ willingness to pay tax depends on the perceived fairness of the tax system. In the past years, the media have repeatedly reported on the alleged little amount of taxes paid by multinational corporations. The subsequent public criticism of such corporate tax avoidance indicates that such behavior undermines the perceived fairness of the tax system. While the general public dismisses corporate tax avoidance, research suggests that professionals working in the practice of corporate taxation continue to support and engage in such behavior. This raises the question as to what might explain these different views of tax avoidance between tax professionals and the general public.

The department of Tax Law and the department of Social, Economic and Organizational Psychology will collaborate on a research project that aims to investigate this issue using theories and techniques from social neuroscience. The objective of this research project is to provide more insight into the neuropsychological processes that determine perceptions of fairness in the context of taxation. This will be achieved by investigating patterns of attention allocation and affective processing by combining behavioral experiments with eye-tracking, and functional neuroimaging.

What you bring
  • A (research) master’s degree (completed, or to be awarded before the starting date) in a topic relevant for the PhD, such as psychology, cognitive neuroscience or tax law
  • Strong background in empirical research and statistical analysis
  • Experience with conducting experimental fMRI research, and experience with programming for statistical analysis are a plus
  • Affinity with tax policy or tax law and/or social acceptance of policy
  • Commitment to Open Science practices
  • A collaborative mindset, openness to learning new skills, and willingness to share knowledge
  • Evidence of the ability to conduct high-quality research and write scientific text
  • Good written and oral communication skills in English
  • The ability to work independently as well as collaboratively within an interdisciplinary research team

If you immediately recognise yourself in this profile, or if do you not quite meet all the requirements, but you believe that this is the right job for you, we look forward to your application!

What we offer
The department of Tax Law is located in Leiden and consists of approximately 25 employees. The department’s research is focused on corporate taxation and the relationship between taxation and society. While legal research is the department’s core business, multidisciplinary research is highly valued and encouraged. For more information, please visit:

The unit Social, Economic and Organisational Psychology focuses on the application of scientific psychological knowledge of social processes within and between groups of people and individuals, in organisations, but also during economic and consumer decisions. For more information, please visit:

The Faculty
The Department of Tax Law is part of the Leiden Law School (ranked #1 in the Netherlands for the subject of law and #21 in the 2022 QS World University Rankings by Subject). Leiden Law School is located in Leiden and The Hague. With more than 6500 students and around 1000 staff, it is one of the largest university faculties in the Netherlands. The faculty focuses on innovative multidisciplinary research and educational programmes that are constantly renewed in response to issues in society. Our faculty is large enough to make a difference nationally and internationally, yet small enough to offer personalised education. This is how we contribute to a safe and sustainable world, each and every day. The Faculty is housed in the beautifully restored Kamerlingh Onnes Building on the Steenschuur in Leiden. The Department of Economics also has offices in The Hague. Working for the Leiden Law School means working in a welcoming and inspiring scientific environment.

We also offer:
  • The PhD position is for 0,8-1,0 fte.
  • The contract as a fulltime PhD student will be for a period of four years (five years with 0,8 fte). Initially for a period of one year with an extension of three years (or four years with 0,8 fte) after positive evaluation of progress and skills development, leading to the successful completion of a PhD thesis. The appointment will be under the terms of the cao (Collective Labour Agreement) of Dutch Universities.
  • Starting date: 1st of September 2024 (some flexibility is possible).
  • The (fulltime) gross yearly salary is set on € 38.658,- in the first year, increasing to € 49.390,- in the final year. This includes holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%).
  • Leiden University offers excellent secondary employment conditions, including an attractive benefits package with training and career development (including, for example, language courses, teaching courses and project management courses), support from the PhD dean, and we facilitate a good work-life balance via flexible working hours and various leave arrangements. Our individual choices model also gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

For more information on the terms and conditions of employment, see

What we find important
Promoting an inclusive community is central to Leiden University’s values and vision. Leiden University aims to be an inclusive community in which all students and staff members feel valued and respected, and are able to develop to their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High-quality education and research means inclusive education and research.

Want to apply or find out more?
If you want to apply straight away, click the application button.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Elody Hutten (

Applications for this vacancy can be submitted via the blue button of our online system. Please submit your application online no later than 24/06/2024 via the blue button in our application system. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:
  • A cover letter stating your motivation for this position
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Your bachelor and (draft) master thesis or other major writing example
  • Copies of your academic transcripts

The interviews will take place in week 26 and week 27

To help us get to know each other better, we follow a number of steps in the application procedure. For more information, see
  • We believe mobility is very important. That is why we are also publishing this vacancy internally. In case of equal suitability, we will give priority to the internal candidate.


Leiden University


  • PhD; Education
  • Law
  • €3221—€4115 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14926



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you


Apply for this job

Apply for this job

This application process is managed by the employer (Leiden University). 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 24 Jun 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).