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PhD candidate in 'The persuasive consequences of conversational agents'

The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), the research institute in Communication Science at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, is …

9 maanden geleden


Spui, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), the research institute in Communication Science at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, is looking for one PhD candidate for a project within the Research Priority Area (RPA) Communication and the Digital Communication Methods Lab.

Fuelled by advances in artificial intelligence and pushed by large technology companies, (chat)bots are making their way into our media, our phones, and our homes. This proposal addresses critical and urgent research gaps. From a methodological perspective, this project has an explicit emphasis on method development, in line with the RPA Communication priorities, developing critical knowledge on how to integrate conversational agents in communication research. From a theoretical perspective, this project explores the (un)intended persuasive consequences associated with chatbots reshaping our communication environment and being increasingly deployed in the shape of always-on personal virtual assistants.

It is assumed that chatbots have the potential to inform and persuade in new and effective ways. Communicating in a conversational manner, displaying human-like behaviour, being always available, and having access to our data, they may help us navigate through information clutter, making personalized recommendations. Moreover, the more often and the longer we interact with them, over time, the stronger we might feel attached, increasing their persuasive ability. Therefore, this project investigates the extent to which chatbot characteristics influence what people think, feel and do about the information provided, the chatbot itself, and the sender (responsible for the chatbot). In doing so, it explores how our relationship to (non-human) entities in this new communication environment can have both positive and negative persuasive consequences.


You should:

  • hold a Research Master’s degree in communication science or equivalent qualifications. Candidates who are due to graduate before September 2018 are also welcome to apply. Research Masters from related fields such as political science, sociology and economics, are also welcome to apply, but might have to do some extra coursework to get acquainted with the field of communication science. Candidates who do not hold a Research Master degree or equivalent will be required to complete a transfer program prior to the project start date. A Research Master is a 2-year Master program with 30 EC of methodological coursework;
  • have active knowledge of statistical techniques and packages, such as R, Stata, or SPSS;
  • have active knowledge of Python for automated content analysis, NLP and/or related tasks. If not familiar with this language yet, we expect you to acquire this knowledge in the first months of the project;
  • excel academically, as shown in the grade transcripts and curriculum vitae;
  • have a firm basis in research methods and data analysis;
  • have an excellent written and spoken command of academic English;
  • have excellent organizational skills;
  • have the ability and interest to work in a team.

You are expected to contribute to the overall project, do research, and publish on the basis of the research, culminating in a PhD dissertation.


The starting date of the position is set for 1 September 2018. The position is initially for 1 year. Extension of the contract after the first year to a total of three years and two months is subject to satisfactory performance.

The gross monthly salary will be in accordance with the salary scales for PhD candidates at Dutch universities, i.e., ranging from €2,222 in the first year to €2,840 in the final year. Conditions are based on Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities

Additional information

You may address questions about the application procedure and other general questions to:

Questions about the project content you may address to:

The deadline for applications is 30 May 2018. Please state vacancy number 18-234 in the subject line of your application, as we have multiple vacancies. Interviews with pre-selected candidates will take place on June 14. To apply for this position, please send all your documents in a single PDF file by e-mail to ascor-secr-fmg@uva.nl.

N.B. A complete application contains at least the following documents in English:

  • ASCoR PhD application form;
  • motivation letter;
  • curriculum vitae;
  • proof of your (Research) Master's degree, including grade transcripts. If you have not completed your degree at the time of application, please provide a statement from your supervisor confirming the expected date of completion of your degree;
  • an academic writing sample in English (e.g., journal article, Master's thesis).