PhD position: Environmental storytelling in hybrid environments – designing, developing and implementing a climate distress ...

PhD position: Environmental storytelling in hybrid environments – designing, developing and implementing a climate distress ...

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5 Dec yesterday Enschede

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Job description

Climate change causes especially young people globally to experience emotional distress, which has numerous consequences at the individual and societal levels. There is a pressing need to design effective interventions tailored for this population, recognizing the complexity of climate distress (combination of adverse climate change emotions such as anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration). Since young adults live in an interlinked ecosystem of the digital and physical world, this calls for the development of a holistic and multi-sided intervention.

The challenge
In this project, the aim is to develop a hybrid storytelling intervention that alleviates young adults’ climate distress. The intervention would do this by helping young adults build their narrative identity, a narrative sense of oneself created with storytelling, which also includes climate agency, a sense of being able and willing to navigate the climate crisis. Identification with characters and transportation into alternative worlds as well as the use of self-reflective writing, inspired by different triggers such as a VR experience, open up possibilities for developing narrative identity and climate agency.

The research question is “How can a hybrid storytelling intervention alleviate climate distress in young adults?”.

This PhD project has the following main aims:
  1. To understand young adults’ ideas and needs for alleviating their climate distress. Subsequently, these ideas are put to use in testing various trigger materials and environments that are meant to enhance the participants’ narrative identity through reflective writing.
  2. To collect participant experiences from various activities. The participants engage in individual audio journalling and social audio reflection through the Wisper app, created by the GEMH lab. In addition, the participants experience various future environmental scenarios in a VR environment (e.g. a hopeful one where actions solve a specific problem, a dystopian one where human action fails, etc.).
  3. To develop a hybrid storytelling group intervention where the participants encounter environmental storytelling triggers and discuss their experiences in a facilitated group.
  4. To quantitatively test the effectiveness of the intervention and to qualitatively understand and describe its potential.

This project also aims to produce guidelines for people interested in facilitating storytelling groups for climate-distressed young adults. In this project, you will collect and analyze both quantitative (statistical data collected with e.g. surveys) and qualitative (the reflective writing exercises) data and integrate them into mixed-method publications.

The key tasks of the PhD candidate include:
  • Setting up experiments
  • Doing statistical analysis
  • Doing qualitative/narrative analysis
  • Working together with the BMS Lab


University of Twente (UT)


  • MSc degree in psychology or a related discipline (also candidates close to graduating are encouraged to apply)
  • Strong interests in and affinities for 1) climate psychology, 2) mixed methods research, including experience in at least statistical or qualitative data analysis, and 3) digital environments such as Virtual Reality
  • Demonstrably good (scientific) writing skills
  • English conversation, writing, and presentation skills. Command of the Dutch language or willingness to learn Dutch is considered an advantage
  • Communication and social skills related to working in interdisciplinary environments
  • A good team spirit, liking to work in an interdisciplinary and international environment

Conditions of employment

  • A full-time 4-year PhD position with a qualifier in the first year
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2.770,- in the first year to € 3.539,- in the fourth year
  • Excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8,3%, a solid pension scheme, and health care benefits
  • 29 holidays per year in case of full-time employment
  • Excellent mentorship in a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities
  • A personal development program within the Twente Graduate School. You will have a training program as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision
  • A green campus with free access to sports facilities and an international scientific community
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid)


At the Department of Technology, Human and Institutional Behaviour (HIB), we are specialists in the science of behaviour change and the interplay between human behaviour and technology.
Why do we behave the way we do, and how does our behaviour change? Why is it that some people can successfully adapt their diet or lifestyle, and others seem unable to? What drives behavioural changes among people and groups? How can our governments help us to behave in ways that are healthy, sustainable, and inclusive, or that will make our countries, societies and cities a safer place to live? What role can technologies play – from virtual reality or artificial intelligence to human-media interaction and value-based design – in influencing our behaviour for the better? And, conversely, what does our behaviour tell us about how these new technologies should be developed? These are some of the key questions we deal with as researchers, educators and societal problem solvers at the HIB department.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1555


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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