PhD candidate Project 'Who Benefits from Social Media and Who Does Not?'

PhD candidate Project 'Who Benefits from Social Media and Who Does Not?'

Published Deadline Location
26 Apr 14 Jun Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you exceptionally interested in interdisciplinary research projects? Do you like to work in a team of young researchers? We are seeking a PhD candidate who is interested in interdisciplinary research into the uses and effects of social media on adolescents’ well-being, and who likes to bridge research insights developed in communication, psychology, and data science.

In the past decade, dozens of empirical studies have looked into the effects of social media use on adolescents’ well-being, often yielding inconsistent findings. With this project, you will contribute to a better understanding of how social media affect well-being by adopting a novel, person-specific statistical approach. Such an approach can now be realized due to rapid advances both in mobile communication technology and in data-analytic software. By means of this approach, we will be able to show whether and how the effects of social media use differ from adolescent to adolescent.

A person-specific approach requires intensive longitudinal data collection, accompanied by state-of-the-art quantitative data-analytical methods. In this project, we will combine experience sampling methods (ESM) with a two-wave panel survey. In addition, we will collect and analyze adolescents’ 'social media data archives' (i.e., the personal data that social media platforms are obliged by law to send upon request of their users). In the first step of this analysis, you will conduct qualitative interviews based on adolescents’ data archives. Subsequently, you will investigate the feasibility of leveraging statistical and machine learning techniques to analyze the contents of data archives. By combining such a diverse set of methods, we will not only be able to understand how adolescents may (or may not) benefit from social media use, but also to validate subjectively and objectively collected social media usage sources against one another. An extensive project description is available upon request (email: ASCoR Secretariat).

You will be part of Team AWeSome (Adolescents, Well-being, and Social Media. Project AWeSome is funded by the NWO- Spinoza project of professor Patti Valkenburg. It is hosted at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the UvA, which is the largest and best-ranked research institute of its kind in Europe. You will be supervised by Dr Ine Beyens, Dr Loes Pouwels, and Prof. Valkenburg. In addition, we will collaborate with two external advisors, Dr Loes Keijsers, Department of Developmental Psychology at Tilburg University (TiU), and Dr Daniel Oberski, Department of Methodology and Statistics at Utrecht University (UU). The PhD candidate will be located at the UvA, with occassional travels to UU and TiU.


  • Collect and analyse survey and experience sampling data using state-of-the-art software (e.g., R);
  • conduct interviews with adolescents about their social media data archives. Take courses and apply data mining techniques on social media data sources;
  • work in a team consisting of three senior and three post-doctoral researchers;
  • write publications on newly collected and existing datasets and present these on conferences.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Candidates for this position should have an academic degree in communication science, developmental psychology, artificial intelligence, or a related field. A Research Master’s degree is a plus.

In addition, you:

  • are interested in research on adolescents, well-being, and social media;
  • have excellent organizational and social skills;
  • are willing to learn and think across disciplines;
  • have good communication skills and are well able to communicate with adolescents;
  • are collaborative and like to work in a team;  
  • are fluent in spoken and written Dutch (native or near-native speaker), as conducting interviews with Dutch adolescents is an important part of the project;
  • have good statistical skills, proven expertise in R, and are eager to learn advanced statistics for longitudinal and intensive data analysis (e.g., multi-level modelling, time-series, dynamic structural equation models, machine learning);
  • have excellent English writing skills;
  • have experience with qualitative interview methods, which is not mandatory but a plus.

Conditions of employment

The position concerns a temporary appointment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of three years from 15 September 2019 to 15 September 2022. The initial appointment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 24 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. In close consultation with the supervisors, you will build a curriculum, which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events.

Your salary will be €2.325 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €2.972 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement for 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 can we offer you?

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample opportunities for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future. To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


University of Amsterdam

With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.  

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


Amsterdam School of Communication Research

The Amsterdam School of Communication Research ASCoR is the research institute in Communication Science at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam.

It is the largest research institute of its kind in Europe and is among the largest worldwide. More than 80 senior researchers are permanently associated with ASCoR, and its English-language PhD program hosts 25 students.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2325—€2972 per month
  • University graduate
  • 19-265


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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