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PhD candidate in Urban Mental Health

The Department of Psychology is looking for a PhD candidate in Urban Mental Health. Computational modelling of psychological and social dynamics in …

ongeveer een jaar geleden


Nieuwe Achtergracht, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2325 - € 2972 per maand


The Department of Psychology is looking for a PhD candidate in Urban Mental Health.

Computational modelling of psychological and social dynamics in urban mental health conditions: the case of addictive substance use.
The Urban Mental Health research priority area has approved a PhD project at the University of Amsterdam between the Psychological Methods Group in the Department of Psychology, the Department of Computational Science in the Informatics Institute, and the Institute for Advanced Studies. This project will be supervised by Dr Sacha Epskamp and Dr Michael Lees, and will be hosted at the Psychological Methods group and the Institute for Advanced Studies. For more information, please see the full PhD project description and/or contact Sacha Epskamp or Michael Lees .
There is a well-established association between psychological disorders and substance abuse, with very high reported comorbidity rates. Unraveling causality in this complex problem is hugely challenging: the propensity for addiction is higher in individuals with mental health issues, and seemingly people abusing illicit substances are more likely to develop mental health issues. This complexity stems from the realization that addiction and mental health problems are driven by underlying psychological (e.g., mental unrest) and social (e.g., peer pressure) processes. While significant progress has been made through a complexity approach to psychology, societal environments and social components are often modeled in simplistic ways, typically as mere covariates. Increasing urbanization places the individual in ever increasingly complex social and environmental contexts that can no longer be ignored. Psychosocial factors, such as: peer pressure, (lack of) social support, and availability of substances, play a vital role in the use of addictive substances. In addition, people shape and influence their social environment as much as they are shaped by it – clearly the mental state of individuals will impact the way they deal with their social environment.

Project description

In this project we plan to develop novel computational models to study the dynamics of addictive substance (ab)use. Our central hypothesis is that the complex dynamics of addiction and mental health issues are driven by psychological and social dynamics and we aim to build complex system models to understand this. The goal of this project is to integrate the psychological and social levels of explanation in an encompassing computational modeling framework. This modeling framework will be applied to study the interplay of substance use and mental health, and will provide a toolbox applicable to study other common mental health conditions throughout the Urban Mental Health (UMH) research priority area.


You have:

  • a strong affinity to both psychological research and computational modeling;
  • a multidisciplinary and collaborative mindset;
  • a strong motivation for pursuing a PhD, also demonstrated with a high GPA during the master's study;
  • proficiency in programming in at least R and/or Python;
  • familiarity with (social and psychological) network modeling, agent-based modeling, simulation studies and differential equations.


The appointment will be on a temporary basis for a period of 12 months and after satisfactory evaluation it can be extended for a total duration of 4 years. The appointment should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD candidate is also expected to assist in teaching bachelor and master students.

The gross monthly salary will range from €2,325 (first year) up to a maximum of €2,972 (last year). The salary is based on a full-time appointment (38 hours a week). The total salary includes an additional 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus, under the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. A favorable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants.

Additional information

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact: