Professor at Leiden University

PhD position in Cognitive Psychology

The section Cognitive Psychology of the institute Psychology of the Faculty Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a

PhD position in Cognitive Psychology (1.0 FTE)
Project description
Research Project “Function of emotional mimicry and physiological linkage”.
Across human evolution, trust has enabled groups and institutions to cooperate, function, and prosper. However, within groups and institutions, individuals also need to be prepared to detect non-cooperators and withhold trust, in order to avoid exploitation and betrayal. To tackle this evolutionary exchange problem, humans rely on phylogenetically old mechanisms that help them make quick and accurate evaluations of another’s emotions and intentions. One such mechanism is mimicry, which occurs at different levels (e.g. body, face, physiology). The question of what purpose mimicry serves is one of the most perplexing unanswered questions in psychology. What is mimicry good for? By taking into account differences in empathy, this project aims to investigate the boundaries of the automated response that constitutes mimicry, by studying different forms of mimicry and their impact on social decisions during dyadic interactions in diverse social contexts.
Despite overlapping interests, psychologists and biologists have generally diverged in their approaches to emotional expressions and depend on different conceptual frameworks. This project takes an integrative, multi-method approach to investigate what is expressed and mimicked during two-person interactions and whether mimicry contribute to social decisions. To that extent, a broader than typical palette of expressions will be investigated, taken from the psychology as well as from the primatology literature (e.g. facial expressions, blush, eye contact, pupil dilation, tears, yawning, scratching etc.).
This project is supported by an ERC Starting grant to Dr Mariska Kret (Leiden University). The project will run in parallel with ongoing projects in the CoPAN lab, directed by Dr Mariska Kret (; see the Copan Leiden Facebook page). The research group participates in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, an interfaculty center for interdisciplinary research on brain and cognition (
Related publications and

Key responsibilities

  • Literature study, hypothesis-driven development and execution of experimental studies in the field of emotion (eye-tracking, psychophysiology, economic games);
  • Report results at conferences and in at least four international peer-reviewed journals;
  • Supervise BSc and MSc thesis projects;
  • Work in a team and participate in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC);
  • ERC-grant-related administration (e.g. progress reports).

Selection criteria

  • Master degree in psychology or related field;
  • Experience with psychophysiological methods;
  • Excellent English writing skills (online TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) (TOEFL-iBT) of at least 90 or equivalent test);
  • Technical skills;
  • Knowledge of multilevel statistics and/or machine learning/random forests and/or network analyses;
  • Programming experience (e.g., Matlab, R, e-prime);
  • Broad scientific interest beyond own field (e.g., evolutionary psychology, primatology, human-computer interactions, Virtual Reality etc.). Open-minded.

Our organisation
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

Terms and conditions
The appointment will initially be for 12 months and if evaluated positively extended with  3 years and must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. The salary ranges from €2,325 gross per month in the 1st year up to €2,972 gross per month in the 4th year based on a fulltime employment in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. A part-time position is possible as well. The preferred starting date is the 1st of June 2019. Earlier is not possible, up to 4 months later is discussable.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses(8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. 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

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries can be made to Dr Mariska Kret, email

Please submit online your application no later than 7 of April 2019 via the blue button in our application system. Applicants should submit a letter of interest accompanied by a CV and at least two recommendation letters (all online).

You can apply via the application button; no applications will be processed on the email addresses.
Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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