Professor at Leiden University

2 year Postdoc Position (0.8 fte) in Cognitive Psychology (with possible extension to 3 years and full-time employment)

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Psychology, the Cognitive Psychology Unit has available a


2 year Postdoc Position (0.8 fte) in Cognitive Psychology (with possible extension to 3 years and full-time employment)



Research Project “Evolutionary insights into the production and perception of expressions of emotions”                                                                      

During social interactions, humans express and regulate their emotional states as well as process the emotions expressed by others. Importantly, most of these processes occur automatically, without conscious awareness. Although most emotional expressions in the human face are produced spontaneously, the existing literature has largely focused on posed or ‘artificial’ expressions, which impacts the ecological-validity of the findings. Through a range of experimental studies involving different physiological measures the postdoc will gain insight into these issues. Focusing on explicit emotional signals (e.g. smiles) and implicit cues (e.g. pupil dilation, blush), we aim to identify emotion expressions produced and perceived by humans and systematically compare these to those of our closest living relatives, the bonobos. Bonobos are an ideal model species to reconstruct our last common ancestor and to identify uniquely human features. In addition, we will determine the extent to which culture influences human emotion perception. Combining novel techniques within a comparative multi-disciplinary framework, this project offers an evolutionary-grounded approach to the origins of human emotion.


This project is supported by an NWO ORA grant to Dr. Mariska Kret (Leiden University) and Dr. Zanna Clay (Durham University). The project will run in parallel with ongoing projects in the CoPAN lab, directed by Dr. Mariska Kret (; see also our Copan Leiden Facebook page). The research group participates in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC), an interfaculty center for interdisciplinary research on brain and cognition ( For the current position, Dr. Mariska Kret is  looking for a postdoc to be based in the Netherlands, who will focus on the human component predominantly (not necessarily exclusively). In parrallell to this project, another project supervised by Dr. Zanna Clay will take place mainly in the UK, the Democratic Republic of Congo (studies with local people and bonobo’s) and Rwanda (local population). For further cross-cultural comparisons, the project is in collaboration with Dr. Akihiro Tanaka (Tokyo woman’s christian university) and Dr. Anthony Atkinson (Durham University). The two postdocs closely interact on various occasions and locations.


Key Responsibilities

  • Literature study, hypothesis-driven development and execution of experimental studies in the field of emotion production and perception (eye-tracking, thermography, touchscreen studies);
  • Report results at conferences and in at least six international peer-reviewed journals;
  • Supervise BSc and MSc thesis projects;
  • Assist in the ongoing projects of PhD students;
  • Participate in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC).


Selection Criteria

  • PhD in experimental psychology or a related field;
  • Strong technical skills;
  • Knowledge of statistics (e.g., Generalized mixed multilevel models, time-series analyses, windowed-cross correlations, networks);
  • Programming experience (e.g., Matlab, R, e-prime);
  • Knowledge of psychophysiological methods (e.g., heartrate, facial temperature, eye-tracking and pupillometry, thermography);
  • Excellent research and writing skills;
  • Excellent command of English;


Our faculty/Institute

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises four institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology and Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology. The Faculty also includes the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 5,000 students and 600 members of staff. Our teaching and research programs cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behavior. For more information, see


The Institute of Psychology comprises six units for teaching and research: Health, Medical and Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental and Educational Psychology, Social and Organizational Psychology, and Methodology and Statistics. The Institute of Psychology offers a stimulating environment that promotes collaboration within and between units. For more information, see


Terms and condition

We offer a 0.8fte, fixed-term post for 2 years, with a possible extension of one more year. If the postdoc is willing to accept teaching duties, the contract may be extended to full-time employment. Salary is in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. Preferred starting date: March 1st 2019. Earlier is not possible, later is discussable.


Leiden University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.



Enquiries can be made to Dr. Mariska Kret, email:




Applications (specifying the vacancy number), including a CV and a full publication list can be submitted – before January 17th – online here.


Receipt of your application will be confirmed by e-mail. If you have not received a confirmation within three days after submission, please contact us at +31 – 71 – 527 3427

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