Professor at Leiden University

3 year Postdoc Position (0.75 fte) in Psychophysiology and Statistics

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


3 year Postdoc Position (0.75 fte) in Psychophysiology and Statistics


Vacancy number 19-253


Research Project “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 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 contexts.

This project takes an integrative, multi-method approach to investigate what is expressed and mimicked during interactions and whether mimicry contributes 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.). We are seeking a candidate that can help set up statistical procedures to, amongst other things, (i) compute density networks with connections between all the expression modalities, (ii), investigate which expressions associate with certain decisions, (iii) set clear time windows (when is something ‘mimicry’ and when isn’t it anymore), (iv) confirm findings using machine learning such as a Random Forests approach.

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:;;

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 and co-supervise PhD student;
  • 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


  • PhD in psychology, neuroscience, mathematics or related field;
  • Knowledge of multilevel statistics and/or machine learning/random forests and/or (neural) network analyses
  • Technical skills


  • Experience with psychophysiological methods;
  • 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 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 and hosts 5,000 students and 600 staff members.

The Institute of Psychology comprises six units (teaching + 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 conditions

We offer a 0.75fte, fixed-term post for 3 years. Salary is € xxx   gross per month (pay scale 10), in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). A full-time position may be possible, too, when combined with teaching. The candidate will help in the supervision of a PhD student and will also be involved in minor grant-related administrative duties.

Preferred starting date: November 1st 2019 (up to 5 months 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 at least two recommendation letters (and any additional documents such as a publication list) can be submitted before July 21th 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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