“Are you excited about sustainability research, ready to learn new technical skills (study design, administration, and analysis) and enthusiastic about writing articles for international peer-reviewed journals?

We are hiring a 4-year PhD student in social and environmental psychology. This PhD on climate activism behavior in the Social Psychology programme group at the University of Amsterdam will be co-supervised by Drs Cameron Brick (chair), Nils Jostmann, and Disa Sauter. The PhD will be embedded in two main lab groups with other PhDs and postdocs: Brick Lab & Amsterdam Interdisciplinary Centre for Emotion. This position is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

This PhD will be focused on understanding why people engage in climate change activism. Because such actions are contrary to personal benefit (e.g., time and money spent, reputation harm, the unpleasantness and legal risks of being arrested), it is not trivial to explain how such actions arise. Most pro-environmental behavior research has focused on consumer actions, but individuals can have larger impacts through their organizational roles, leadership, and civic participation (Nielsen et al., 2021). Collective action, which we define along a spectrum from voting to participating in a march to leading an activist organization, is particularly important for climate mitigation compared to consumer behaviors (Carmona-Moya et al., 2021), despite relatively little research attention. Decades of research have revealed demographic and individual difference predictors of prosocial and pro-environmental behavior, including personality, motivations, and attitudes (e.g., Brick & Lai, 2018; Zwicker, Brick, et al., 2021). However, most studies have been on self-reported consumer behaviors. In sum, the proximate, contextual causes of why individuals participate in collective action and what sustains their involvement are poorly understood. The supervisory team combines expertise on pro-environmental behavior, motivation, and emotion. Here is an example of the type of output we aim for:

Castiglione, A., Brick, C., Lindsay, D., Holden, S., & Aron, A. (2022). Discovering the psychological building blocks underlying climate action – a longitudinal study of real-world activism. Royal Society Open Science9, 210006. 10.1098/rsos.210006. PDF

Work Packages

1.          Reveal the key processes in situ. The student will lead a cross-sectional project focused on the critical period of individuals first getting involved with environmental organizations.

2.          Identify transitory emotions and psychological predictors. The student will use experience sampling for momentary emotional assessment in a longitudinal study.

3.          Developmental trajectory. We expect different attitudinal, motivation, and emotional processes to explain action across different age groups.

There is some flexibility to adjust the project to the interests of the PhD candidate.

What you are going to do

The PhD student will enroll in the educational program from the Kurt Lewin Institute to follow specialized and general courses and to connect with a network of other PhD students across six Dutch universities. They will primarily conduct research, but also take courses and supervise Bachelor’s students in social psychology. Please read the detailed project description before applying. The candidate will conduct analyses in the programming language R, and can learn these skills during the degree if you don’t have them already.

Your experience and profile

·          (Research) Master’s-level degree in social psychology or a related field;

·          Excellent English speaking and writing;

·          Strong scientific writing with clarity, precision, and concision.

Desirable but not required

       ·          Experience with environmental and/or social psychology research and/or activism;

       ·          Dutch language;

       ·          Experience with R, RMarkdown, or other programming.

What can we offer you

The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of four years. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of three more years, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate.

For this position the University Job Classification profile “Promovendus” applies.

Your salary will be €2541 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3247 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer

·          a position in which initiative and input are highly valued;

·          an enthusiastic and warm team that is open to new colleagues;

·          an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.”

More information about the vacancy you can find here.