PhD candidate to unravel the complex interplay between social anxiety and ADHD in youth

PhD candidate to unravel the complex interplay between social anxiety and ADHD in youth

Published Deadline Location
20 Feb 5 Apr Leiden

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The Institute of Psychology of the Faculty Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a

PhD candidate to unravel the complex interplay between social anxiety and ADHD in youth (1.0 FTE)

Job description

Are you interested in psychopathology in youth, and motivated to unravel complex relationships in brain and behavior using multiple techniques and approaches? Consider joining our team as a PhD student and gain the skills and knowledge to conduct cutting-edge research disentangling the interplay between social anxiety disorder (SAD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in youth.

Applications are invited for a four-year PhD position under the supervision of Dr. Janna Marie Bas-Hoogendam, Dr. Bianca Boyer and prof. Michiel Westenberg at the Developmental and Educational Psychology Unit of Leiden University. We are looking for an enthusiastic student who would like to develop their career in the field of clinical developmental neuropsychology.

Project description
Co-occurring disorders are highly prevalent among youth with ADHD and the existence of other comorbidities alongside ADHD exacerbates the severity of symptoms. Furthermore, treating ADHD is expensive, with costs doubling when comorbid disorders are present. More insight in comorbidity in youth with ADHD is thus important.

Studies reveal that SAD is the most common anxiety disorder found in adults with ADHD. Conversely, ADHD has been identified as a possible risk factor for the development of SAD: research conducted in SAD patients shows that childhood ADHD (in particular, the inattentive type) is associated with SAD and more severe social phobia symptoms. However, study sizes are small and literature on SAD in ADHD is sparse. The nature of this relationship, the development of symptoms and potential treatment options are largely unknown.

In this project, we aim to (1) gain a deeper understanding of the causes and characteristics of SAD among adolescents and young adults who suffer from ADHD, as well as (2) evaluate the efficacy of two different treatments for SAD in this population.

To address these aims, this PhD project will employ a range of measures including self-report, parent-report, focus groups, and neuroimaging data (MRI), in order to study SAD in youth with ADHD in a comprehensive way. Furthermore, two different treatments will be studied, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and fMRI-based real-time neurofeedback.

In a series of studies, we first aim to gain a better understanding of the relationship between SAD and ADHD in youth, at the clinical and neurobiological level. These studies are based on existing, already collected data (for example, cross-sectional clinical data of adolescents with and without ADHD; MRI data of adolescents with ADHD, SAD or both), and new data which will be acquired by the PhD-student.

Second, we aim to evaluate the effectiveness of two different treatments. The first study involves a proof-of-principle study developing real-time fMRI-based neurofeedback training for SAD in youth with and without ADHD. The second study aims to determine the effectiveness of CBT targeting self-esteem in adolescents with ADHD.

The PhD candidate is in the exceptional position that they can decide which of these studies they want to use to shape their own research line in their dissertation. The candidate will receive training in a variety of methods and will have the opportunity to pursue their own research interests in depth. This way, the successful applicant can shape their own dissertation. Furthermore, the project provides ample opportunities for interdisciplinary research, outreach, and open science. The candidate is also expected to contribute to teaching within the Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology (10 % of time; for example, supervision BSc and MSc thesis projects), and will thus also gain experience in this respect.


Leiden University


The qualifications needed for this position include:
  • A completed or upcoming (before September 2024) master's degree (preferable Research Master) in Psychology, Family studies, Cognitive neuroscience, or a related field;
  • Good analytical and statistical skills, with prior experience acquiring and analyzing fMRI data being a plus;
  • A passion for developmental (neuro)science that has real implications in clinical practice;
  • A collaborative mindset, openness to learning new skills, and willingness to share knowledge;
  • Proficiency in Dutch, as you will be interacting with youth;
  • Excellent organizational and communicational skills and attention to detail;
  • Excitement about setting up and coordinating multiple studies and keen to shape the content of the dissertation yourselves;
  • It is important to note that the role might requires flexible availability, including evenings and weekends, to accommodate the needs of study participants in data collection. However, these hours are compensated during the week, and the team highly values a healthy work-life balance.

Conditions of employment

Our organization
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences consists of five institutes: Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Political Science, and Psychology. The faculty has approximately 7000 students and 1000 staff members. Within the institutes, not only education is provided but also groundbreaking research is conducted that pushes the boundaries of our understanding of human behaviour and societal structures. What makes our faculty unique is the diversity of research topics, the various styles of teaching, and the way professional support is organized; this provides you with the opportunity to explore and develop your interests and expertise. Visit our website for an impression: Welcome to the Leiden Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences - Leiden University.

Terms and conditions
We offer an employment contract for 38 hours per week as a PhD candidate, initially for a period of 1 year, with the possibility of extension for 3 years after a positive evaluation. This contract falls under the CLA of Dutch Universities. The salary ranges from €2,770.00 gross per month in the 1st year up to €3,539.00 gross per month in the 4th year based on a fulltime employment (pay scale P). A part-time position is possible as well. The preferred starting date is the 1st of July 2024.

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. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at

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.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14600



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

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