Postdoctoral Researcher in Social Psychology

University of Amsterdam Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Postdoctoral Researcher in Social Psychology

Faculty/Services:  Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Educational level:  PhD
Function type:  Academic Staff
Closing date:  28 March 2023
Vacancy number:  11252

We are looking for a postdoc to join a new NWO-funded research project led by Prof. dr. Gerben A. van Kleef (PI) at the Social Psychology group of the University of Amsterdam.

The goal of the project at large is to investigate the social dynamics of (counter)normative behavior. Adherence to social norms is important for community functioning, yet norm violations abound. People jump queues, commit fraud, vandalize property, dodge taxes, and engage in sexual harassment. Such behaviors can be highly problematic when they happen sporadically, and even more troublesome when they spread in groups to create systemic problems (e.g., anarchy, corruption, social unsafety, toxic cultures). Despite a longstanding interest in social norms, current science cannot explain or predict when norm violations are contained and when they spread, nor how this happens. This is because dominant perspectives fail to capture the emotional dynamics of (counter)normative behavior.

The team working on this project (two postdocs, a research assistant, external collaborators, and the PI) will develop and test a novel theoretical model of the emotional dynamics of (counter)normative behavior in groups. The basic premise of the model is that the spreading or containment of norm violations depends on observers’ behavioral responses to those violations, which are shaped by emotional processes. We will investigate emotional reactions to norm violations and the social contingencies that modulate these reactions; link emotional reactions to behavioral responses; and examine how these behavioral responses contribute to the spreading or containment of norm violations and the development of social norms over time.

The model will be tested in two complementary work packages. Work package 1 focuses on individual responses to norm violations, using tightly controlled experimental methods. Work package 2 focuses on responses to norm violations and downstream consequences for group norms in online and live-interacting groups. The current vacancy pertains to work package 1.

What are you going to do

  • review the literature on social norms and (responses to) norm violations;
  • design and conduct experimental studies to test emotional and behavioural responses to norm violations using tightly controlled methods (e.g., carefully crafted news articles, social media posts, film clips, immersive video games, or virtual reality environments depicting different norm violations);
  • identify and incorporate measures of physiological and behavioural responses to norm violations;
  • process the data using appropriate analytical procedures;
  • write high-quality scientific papers together with other members of the project team;
  • organize a symposium at an international conference;
  • present your work at national and international conferences;
  • perform a small amount of teaching (e.g., thesis supervision).

What we require of you

  • a PhD degree in social psychology or a related discipline;
  • demonstrated experience with conducting and publishing high-quality experimental research;
  • experience and/or affinity with developing and implementing engaging experimental manipulations, for instance involving film clips, interactive video games, or virtual reality;
  • experience and/or affinity with administering and processing physiological measures;
  • excellent writing skills and a genuine interest in writing papers for publication;
  • outstanding organisational skills, high conscientiousness, flexibility, and a collaborative attitude;
  • willingness and ability to learn and grow in all areas of research;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English;
  • availability to start in September 2023.

What can we offer you

The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours per week. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended for two year to a total duration of three years (based on 1.0fte). For this position, the University Job Classification profile 'onderzoeker 3' applies.

Salary depends on past education and relevant work experience, with a minimum salary of €3974 and a maximum salary of €5439 gross per month based on a full-time appointment for a 38-hour working week (in keeping with scale 11, as per the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities). We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary employee benefits, including a generous holiday scheme and year-end bonus. Because we value your continued personal development and professionalization, we also offer excellent opportunities for study and development temporary appointment in a world-leading academic department.

About us

The University of Amsterdam offers a stimulating work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterized by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society. Here you can read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.

Would you like to learn more about working at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)? Visit the website.


Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Feel free to contact the PI, prof. Gerben A. van Kleef (

Job Application

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? If so, we look forward to receiving your application by Tuesday March 28th, 2023. Interviews with shortlisted candidates will take place on Wednesday April 12th, 2023. You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications should include the following documents bundled in a single .pdf (not zipped), in the following order:

  • a concise statement of motivation (500 words max.);
  • a concise statement regarding your fit for the position in light of the abovementioned requirements (300 words max);
  • a full academic Curriculum Vitae, including a list of publications;
  • one first-authored published paper and one first-authored working paper (unpublished) that represents your work;
  • contact information for two academic references (no letters of recommendation at this point).

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

No agencies please

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