PhD candidate for the research project 'lnertia in financial decisions’.

PhD candidate for the research project 'lnertia in financial decisions’.

Published Deadline Location
11 Apr 1 May Leiden

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Job description

lnertia is a state in which people do nothing without making a conscious decision to do so. lnertia can be a problem when it leads to suboptimal (financial) outcomes. For example, many people could save hundreds of euros and might receive better coverage by switching health care insurance, but they do not. Another example is that many people could save more for their pensions by making small investments in money now, but they do not. The aim of the current project is to understand which contexts effects might invoke financial inertia and who is most likely to become financially inert. We will investigate these questions using lab and field experiments. The direct supervision of the PhD project will be done by Dr. Marijke van Putten (Leiden University), Prof. Dr. Marcel Zeelenberg (Tilburg University) and prof. Dr. Eric van Dijk (Leiden University). We will consult regularly with Prof. Dr. Wändi Bruine de Bruin (Leeds University, UK) and our contacts at the pension organizations who support and enable this research, and the funding organization.

The project is funded by Netspar (Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging ond Retirement) and will be affiliated to Kurt Lewin lnstitute (KLl), the national research school for social psychology and its applications. The KLI offers a training and education program for its researchers.

Key responsibilities
This PhD-project starts with a literature review to model the contextual determinants of financial inertia. We will take a psychological perspective in the sense that we are not only looking for financial barriers, or time barriers, but also cognitive and motivational barriers raised by the context that lead to inertia (e.g., information is too complex, costs and benefits of taking action are difficult to compute, the choice set and communication style invokes worries about making the wrong decision, etc.). The next goal is to develop and test a scale to assess dispositional inertia. Finally, the theoretical model and the dispositional inertia scale will be validated via surveys and lab and field experiments. Next to conducting this research you will:

  • Present its findings on scientific conferences and Netspar meetings;
  • Report its findings in international journals, resulting in a dissertation;
  • Report its findings in Netspar papers;
  • Participate in the Kurt Lewin institute, and the local graduate school;
  • Participate (on a limited scale) in the teaching program of the Social and Organisational Psychology unit.


Leiden University


  • Please apply for this position when you are interested and enthusiastic about this project. lf you apply, keep in mind that we are looking for somebody who has the following traits/skills;
  • (Research) Masters' degree in social/economic psychology, or behavioral economies. Please demonstrate that you have the skills and knowledge about research in these fields, and in judgments and decision making. This includes the basic and relevant theories and statistical knowledge;
  • Fluency in spoken English and excellent writing skills in English;
  • lnterest in data analysis. For this project we will develop and test a scale. This requires different tests than standard experimental designs. You need to be interested to dive in and do the best tests for the development of the scale and to test for reliability and validity;
  • Ambition. This project is well-defined and planned, but it is a lot of work. Planning and conducting studies in the field takes time and effort. lf your ambitions cannot be met, you need to be willing and motivated to make a new exciting and ambitious plans. Please demonstrate that you are motivated and willing to put in this effort and more;
  • Flexibility. Although everyhing is planned out well, results cannot be planned and the circumstances at the pension organizations might change over time. You need to be flexible and creative to handle these changes;
  • Professional attitude. You need to have an independent investigative mind. You also need to be aware of the different parties involved who make this project possible. You need to be happy to keep them updated about your progress and results via reports, presentations and personal communication.

Conditions of employment

We offer a 1 year term position, with the possibility extension for max 3 years based on need, funding and performance. Salary is set on € 2325 gross per month to € 2972  gross per month in the final year; based on a full-time position (PhD pay scale, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). Starting date is July 1, 2019.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses(8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model 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. More at


Universiteit Leiden

Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The University permeates the local surroundings; University premises are scattered throughout the city, and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere.

Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia. More at


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises four institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology and Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology. The Faculty also includes the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 5,000 students and 600 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. For more information, see


  • PhD scholarships
  • 36—40 hours per week, temporary
  • €2325—€2972 per month
  • University Graduate
  • 19-177



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