PhD Candidate: Prosocial Storytelling

PhD Candidate: Prosocial Storytelling

Published Deadline Location
15 Sep 31 Oct Nijmegen

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Job description

Are you interested in the impact of storytelling on prosocial behaviour? Do you want to contribute to gaining new insights in the field of narrative persuasion that might help charities develop stories that move hearts and support the ones the most in need? As a PhD candidate in the field of communication and information science, you will participate in a research project assessing the effectiveness of prosocial narratives.

Over the past years fewer and fewer households in the United States have been donating money to charities (CBS News, 2021). Similar trends have been recently observed in the Netherlands (Koopal, 2023) and Canada (Carrick, 2023) where recent inflation resulted in lower donations to charities. Moreover, it is only people high in altruism (Simpson & Willer, 2008) who consistently support charities. One of the ways to engage people more in helping behaviour involves prosocial narratives (stories in favour of prosocial actions, for instance donating to a charity, Hillenbrand & Verrina, 2022). Surprisingly, such strategic use of prosocial narratives to increase helping behaviour has not yet been systematically investigated (Merchant et al., 2010).

In this project, you will explore how people can be enticed to support good causes through the strategic use of prosocial stories (stories in favour of prosocial actions). You will use innovative measures to investigate the effectiveness of prosocial narratives for specific target audiences and the processes that drive these effects.

This project will consist of three subprojects. In the first subproject, you will conduct a content analysis of current practices in prosocial storytelling. In the following two subprojects, you will design and set up experiments, the data of which you will statistically analyse and interpret. You will be expected to present the research outcomes at national and international conferences and write at least three articles for internationally respected journals to be included in your doctoral thesis.

Your research will be embedded in the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) and you will be part of the Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH). You will devote 75% of your time to the research for and writing of your PhD thesis. The remaining 25% will be spent on training and academic service to the Faculty of Arts, including teaching.

We offer you the opportunity to develop and carry out your own PhD project within the areas of expertise of your supervisors, Dr Sebastian Sadowski and Dr Kobie van Krieken. Your thesis supervisor will be Prof. Jos Hornikx. The project will be funded by a Starters grant from the Faculty of Arts awarded to Dr Sebastian Sadowski.


Radboud University


  • You have, or shortly expect to obtain, a Master's degree in communication and information science, communication science, applied linguistics, or another discipline related to the project. If you have not yet graduated, your thesis must have been graded before the date of the first interview round.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English.
  • You have excellent academic writing skills.
  • You have experience in experimental work and data analysis. A Master's degree involving several months of experience and training on a scientific project will be a strong advantage. Experience with conducting content analysis is desirable.
  • You have strong social skills.
  • You are able to work in a team as well as independently.
  • You have well-developed personal management skills.
  • Knowledge of Dutch will be an advantage.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).

  • Employment for 0.8 (5 year contract) - 1.0 FTE (4 year contract).
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,770 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,539 from the fourth year onwards  (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


The Faculty of Arts is committed to knowledge production with a significant scientific and social impact. With over 500 academic and support staff, we teach and conduct research in the fields of history and art, languages and cultures, and linguistics and communication, using innovative methodologies and working in close collaboration with each other. Our research is embedded in two research institutes: the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) and the Radboud Institute for Culture & History (RICH). We currently have approximately 2,500 students, enrolled in three departments: the Department of History, Art History and Classics, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, and the Department of Language and Communication. We aim to contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive world, which is why we especially seek applications from candidates who bring diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and skills that will be assets to our study programmes and research profiles.

Radboud University

We are keen to meet critical thinkers who want to look closer at what really matters. People who, from their expertise, wish to contribute to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This ambition unites more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University and requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!


  • PhD
  • Language and culture
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1214771



Houtlaan 4, 6525 XZ, Nijmegen

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