Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 36.000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is an international place of knowledge.
The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is a centre of knowledge focusing on individuals and society. The faculty studies issues relating to human behaviour, and the relationships between people and society. This includes the study of how people function under normal circumstances, of the problems encountered by individuals or groups, and how these can be resolved or prevented. The Department of Psychology is part of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, and offers Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in both Dutch and English to over 3.000 students.
It is a well-known phenomenon that many people try to change their unhealthy behavior, but very few persist. This problem contributes to many illnesses and early deaths that might have been prevented. Therefore, new knowledge on the psychological laws of long-term behavior change is needed. In this project some brand new perspectives on long-term behavioral change are tested in different research designs (experimental, cohort and qualitative research). This new knowledge can be used, for example, to design more effective sensor and information technology, such as feedback systems on a smartwatch, to support sustained behavior change. Until now, the effectiveness of these system on long-term behavior change is very limited.
With the “Working Memory approach of Behavior Change” we get an innovative view on the process of behavior change with different new angles for influencing behavior. With the “Feedback Learning theory” we finally see why sensor and information technology mostly does not work well to achieve long-term behavioral change. In all studies in this project, socio-economic status (ses) is investigated as an important determinant of sustainable health behavioral change, based on the innovative “ses=culture” theory.
This PhD position at the Psychology department is part of the larger consortium project “Healthy living as a service”, funded by the NWO. The aim of the larger project is to generate knowledge about how people can permanently improve their lifestyle using information and sensor technology. Very different sensor and information technologies will provide individuals and groups with useful information from various sources (e.g., the physical environment, their own body), to support healthy and sustainable choices. In the larger project, studies will be conducted on the build environment, Artificial Intelligence, group cultures, and behavior change (the present project).
The PhD student on this psychologically oriented sub-project will generate knowledge on long-term health behavior change to be published through international scientific channels. Importantly, this knowledge also needs to be diffused in the larger consortium project, in which it will be used to design effective sensor and information technology.
The tasks of the PhD candidate are:
• conduct research that results in a dissertation and is in line with the objectives and requirements of the project
• organize and execute the data collection for the different studies
• publish the results of the research in international scientific journals
• present the research findings to fellow scientists and developers in the larger project, and collaborate with them
• provide a limited number of educational activities at the Psychology department, such as small-scale tutorials and guest lectures, in collaboration with the supervisors.
For this position you are expected to:
• have a (Research) Master’s degree in Psychology, or another relevant Master’s degree, with expertise on the psychology of behavior change
• have a good academic track record (i.e. grades)
• be enthusiastic about writing international publications and a dissertation
• have good organizational skills and the motivation to organize and realize data collection
• have good academic English writing skills (Dutch speaking skills are a plus)
• have good social and communication skills and are willing to work with other team members
• are enthusiastic about translating scientific insights into practical guidelines and advice.
We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:
• a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 3,247 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time position
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a pension scheme and excellent secondary terms of employment
• a temporary position of 1.0 FTE for a period of four years. You will first be appointed for a period of 12 months. After a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period.