PhD Position in Psychology

VU University of Amsterdam

Do you hold a PhD in psychology (or directly related fields) and would you like to pursue a post-doc investigating how and why people behave in ways that reduce infection risks to themselves and others? Please apply for the 3-year post-doc position in headed by Joshua Tybur at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.

Duration: 3 years 
FTE: 1 - 1

Job description

General Description
A Postdoc position for three years for 1.0 fte is available at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the social psychology section of the Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology. The position is part of the ERC Consolidator Grant NONPHARM: “The Psychological Underpinnings of Nonpharmaceutical Interventions”.

The Research Project
Infectious diseases cripple well-being, batter economies, and kill millions annually. These negative consequences can be reduced via nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) – behaviors that reduce the spread of pathogens. A wealth of recent theoretical and empirical work has illuminated how and why disgust intuitively motivates some NPIs, such as avoiding bodily wastes and spoiled foods. However, disgust does little to inhibit transmission via aerosols, respiratory droplets, and fomites – key pathways for the respiratory pathogens that circulate seasonally, have caused recent pandemics, and will cause the pandemics of the future. NONPHARM uses theory and methods from social psychology, evolutionary psychology, health psychology, and behavioral genetics to increase knowledge of how and why people (and do not) engage in NPIs such as handwashing, social isolation while infectious, and creating barriers to respiratory droplets and aerosols.

This postdoc is embedded within one cluster of the NONPHARM project. Within this cluster, we will examine how people behave when they are ill, how people think about illnesses, and how people view others with illnesses. Responsibilities will include: (1) conducting literature reviews; (2) working with the PI to design and execute studies; (3) working with the PI to coordinate with collaborators; (4) communicating with a panel research agency; (5) managing and analyzing data; and (6) assisting or leading manuscript preparation.

The candidate will ideally have a background in the evolutionary social sciences and experience with cross-cultural research. Familiarity with literatures on disgust, pathogen avoidance, sickness behavior, or hygiene is helpful, though not required.


  • A PhD in social, cultural, or evolutionary psychology (or related field, such as anthropology)
  • Excellent data-analytic skills
  • Demonstrated ability to engage in effective scientific writing
  • Demonstrated ability to think and work outside-the-box
  • Excellent command of English
  • Be able to start in Spring 2024 (though there is flexibility)

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €3,877 (scale 10-4) and a maximum €5,090 (scale 10-12), depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1 FTE.

The appointment will be initially for 1 year. After satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, it can be extended for 2 more years, with up to one more year possible contingent on funding.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance)


About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences
The Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences focuses on the broad domain of behaviour and health. Our teaching and research programmes are devoted to current developments in society, from healthy aging to e-health, from juvenile crime to dealing with depression, from training for top athletes to social media as a teaching tool. We are unique in that we combine three academic disciplines: psychology, movement sciences and education.

Working at Behavioural and Movement Sciences means working in an ambitious organization that is characterized by an informal atmosphere and short lines of communication. Our faculty offers tremendous scope for personal development. We employ more than 600 staff members, and we are home to around 3,400 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload a single PDF that includes your curriculum vitae, a personal statement, and the two publications that you think best represent your best research output (empirical or otherwise) until 14/01/2024. The statement should be at most two pages long. It should describe your training background (including methodological/statistical expertise), your research activities to date, and your fit with the topic of this project.

Submitting a diploma and a reference check are part of the application process.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Josh Tybur

No agencies