Professor at Leiden University

PhD Position Emotion, Autism, Social Anxiety

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

4  year PhD Position (1 fte) in Cognitive/ Clinical Psychology

Vacancy number 21-343

Research Project “Emotional contagion in autism and social anxiety disorder”                                                                      

Humans’ capacity to express, recognize and share emotions enables them to navigate their social worlds and forms a core component of what it means to be socially competent and healthy. Emotion processing deficits have been reported in different disorders and are reflected in disturbed emotion regulation, attentional biases, gaze avoidance, disrupted mimicry and emotion recognition deficits. The current project focuses specifically on the putative linkage between the mimicry of expressions and their recognition. Apart from the typically used posed, full-blown facial expressions, a much larger range of expressions are being investigated including autonomic cues (e.g. pupil dilation and blushing) and bodily expressions of emotion. These expressions are more genuine and hard to enact or fake. The question of how patients with SAD and ASD mimic and perceive emotional cues, visible in the face or from body language, has not been investigated yet. Due to the high prevalence of such cues in daily life interactions, it is of crucial importance to investigate whether their known deficits in perceiving prototypical, explicit facial expressions of emotion translate to the more subtle emotional cues that are beyond the control of the expressor. Also, the current project will combine well-controlled computerized tasks with dyadic interaction studies.

This project is supported by an NWO VIDI grant to Mariska Kret. 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

  • Work directly with patients in the lab (and potentially, lab on wheels)
  • Communicate with clinics/ therapists, patient recruitment
  • Report results at conferences and in at least four international peer-reviewed journals;
  • Supervise BSc and MSc thesis projects;
  • Participate in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC).

Selection Criteria

  • Master in experimental or clinical psychology;
  • Knowledge of advanced statistics (e.g. multilevel, Bayesian);
  • Programming experience (e.g., Matlab, R, e-prime, Unity);
  • Knowledge of psychophysiological methods (e.g., heartrate, facial temperature, eye-tracking and pupillometry)
  • Excellent research and writing skills;
  • Communication skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Excellent command of English and preferably Dutch.

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 1fte, fixed-term post for 4 years. Salary is according to the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. A part-time position is possible, too (and then the project will be stretched over a longer period of time). Preferred starting date: Preferably between September and December 2021, but this 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 here– before August 15th

Please use this link:

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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