Professor at Leiden University

Hiring a postdoc for comparative research

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


Postdoc Position (0.8 fte) in Comparative Psychology


Vacancy number 4524


Research Project “Evolutionary Insights into Social Intelligence. A comparison between humans, bonobos, and chimpanzees”                                                                      

Why do humans cooperate in large numbers to advance projects for the common good? Contrary to the conventional wisdom in biology and economics, this generous and civic-minded behavior is widespread and cannot be explained simply by self-interest. People cooperate not to benefit themselves or their close genealogical kin, but do so out of an intrinsic empathic motivation. However, humans are also familiar with betrayal, exploitation and subordination and as a consequence at times refrain from cooperation. We like to see ourselves as intelligent ‘SuperCooperators’, unique among animals. But are we? While most research emphasizes the superiority of humans over other species, increasing evidence suggests that if it comes to social intelligence, some other species have skills that are superior to those of humans. Within this research project, cooperation is treated as the ultimate socially intelligent behavior as it increases the common good, which in the end benefits all individuals within the group. Further, emotional expressions and their recognition, possibly informed by emotional mimicry are considered important drivers of cooperative behavior. In sum, the project challenges the view that humans are the most socially intelligent species.


The project will run in parallel with ongoing projects in the CoPAN lab, directed by Dr. Mariska Kret ( The research group participates in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC), an interfaculty center for interdisciplinary research on brain and cognition (


Key Responsibilities

  • Literature study, hypothesis-driven development and execution of experimental studies in these three species;
  • Report results at conferences and in at least four 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 primatology;
  • Experience with training and testing animals;
  • Knowledge of multilevel statistics;
  • Programming experience (e.g., Matlab, R);
  • 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 programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. 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 which can possibly be expanded to 1.0fte with some teaching duties. Salary is € 2588 – 4048 gross per month (pay scale 10, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).


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 15th – 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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