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PhD candidate Short-term mindsets and crime: Does short-term thinking explain the relation between criminogenic environments and criminal behavior

The challenge Why are some people more likely to commit crime than others? Answers to this question can be grouped into two broad views. On the one hand, …

5 maanden geleden


Drienerlolaan, Enschede, Overijssel
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


The challenge

Why are some people more likely to commit crime than others? Answers to this question can be grouped into two broad views. On the one hand, dispositional perspectives argue that stable factors within the individual, such as lack of self-control, lie at the roots of criminal conduct. Sociogenic perspectives, on the other hand, put the locus of study outside the individual and point towards external factors such as rough neighborhoods, parental unemployment, and deviant peers, as the main causes of crime. Research into both perspectives has identified hundreds of correlates of criminal behavior, yet how these are related is still largely uncharted territory. The ERC research program aims to integrate both views based on a new theoretical perspective, which draws from criminology, social psychology and evolutionary theory. This perspective is premised on the idea that short-term mindsets encourage crime and specifies how both individual dispositions and sociogenic variables can encourage such mindsets.

The question that is central to this project is whether short-term mindsets mediate the relation between criminogenic environments (e.g., rough neighborhoods, delinquent peers), events (e.g., getting expulsed from school, being incarcerated), and specific experiences (e.g., being drunk, high, aroused, or angry). The project will also test the new theoretical perspective - with help of a unique and extensive multi-wave data set - against several established crime theories, e.g., Routine Activities/Risky Lifestyles frameworks, Self-Control Theory, Labeling, and General Strain Theory.

The project is part of a larger ERC-funded research program in which the role of short-term thinking is central. This program’s ambition is to realize ground-breaking advances in the understanding of criminal and delinquent conduct by improving our understanding of what causes people to become shortsighted and also how they can learn and be motivated to take the longer term consequences of their actions better into account and move away from (embarking on) a criminal career.

You will be working closely together with other researchers in a young and ambitious multidisciplinary research team that aims to push the boundaries of the current state of the art in crime research. You will inter alia be using data from a unique longitudinal project following a large sample of Swiss urban youth since age 7, The Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood (www.jacobscenter.uzh.ch/en/research/zproso) and collaborate with members of the zproso team at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

The PhD project aims to fulfill the following two objectives of the larger research program:

  1. To identify the extent to which short-term mindsets account for the relation between contextual factors and crime. Measures of contextual factors include socio-economic status, social disorganization, negative life events, harsh parenting, substance use, and delinquent peers. Measures of short-term mindsets are self-control, impulsivity, future school orientation and vividness of/connectedness to the future self.
  2. Contribute to the development of a new integrative theory explaining crime and delinquency and to test the new theoretical perspective against several established criminological theories.


  • you have obtained a MSc degree in a relevant field of the social sciences, preferably psychology, criminology or (quantitative) sociology. Completion of a Research Master is a plus as are publications and scientific presentations at conferences;
  • you have a clear interest in crime research;
  • you combine a strong background in statistics, preferably with experience in analyzing longitudinal data and/or complex modeling techniques with an interest in theory;
  • you have good social and communication skills
  • you have a well-developed ability to work independently and also enjoy working in teams;
  • you have excellent English language skills, both in writing and speaking;
  • you are creative, critical and highly motivated.

Information and application
For more information and a description of the project you can contact Prof. dr. Jean-Louis van Gelder (+31 53 489 3974 or 5279), email: j.vangelder@utwente.nl. To apply for this position, please submit a letter with your motivation, your resume including name, email, address, phone number and two or more references; and a copy of your master thesis.

Your application needs to be uploaded before 1 May 2018 via the application link. Given that this website does not accept more than three documents, you can combine documents if necessary.


You are appointed as PhD (1,0 fte) for a period of four years. Initial gross salary is € 2.222,- in the first year going up to € 2.840,- per month in the fourth year. Preferred starting date is July 2018. The University of Twente offers excellent facilities for professional and personal development, international and dynamic atmosphere, a green and lively campus, holiday allowance (8%), end-of-year bonus (8.3%) and diverse extra benefits.