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PHD position: Cooperation and helping between groups among children

Are you interested in how prosocial behavior develops and how we can promote social solidary from a young age onward? A full-time PhD studentship on the development of prosocial mindsets and cooperation in children is available at the section of Social Psychology, in collaboration with Developmental Psychology, at the VU Amsterdam. The project is embedded within a larger, interdisciplinary project and funded by the Ammodo Science Award 2020.

3 maanden geleden


De Boelelaan, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 40 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


Human cooperation often occurs in contexts that are characterized by conflicts between individual- and collective interests. With a focus on young children (4-12 year old), this project examines the early development of prosocial mindsets and cooperation. These abilities are crucial in light of pressing societal issues that necessitate broad scale cooperation (e.g., refugee-, climate- and the corona crisis). But how can we enhance a prosocial mindset and cooperation at a young age? And how can we combat distrust and discrimination and increase social solidarity across group boundaries early in life? We tackle these questions by combining insights and methods from social, developmental, cognitive, and educational psychology, social neuroscience, as well as sociology (e.g., networks) and experimental economics (e.g., economic games).
In six experimental studies, we aim to develop and administer a variety of child-friendly tasks, including basic social judgment tasks, social mindfulness tasks, social decision making tasks, and economic games. We also aim to include cognitive (e.g., eye tracking), neuroimaging (portable EEG) and/or physiological (e.g., heart rate variability) measures to complement behavioral measures of prosociality and cooperation. Data collection will take place online, at our VU-laboratory or by visiting schools, after school daycares and museums (e.g. NEMO).
As a PhD candidate, you will work in close cooperation with the Social Educational Neuroscience Amsterdam (SENSA) team. Within the SENSA team, you will be part of a multidisciplinary group, including senior and more junior faculty members. Your project will be supervised by Dr. Jellie Sierksma, Dr. Nikki Lee, and Prof. Dr. Paul van Lange. More information on SENSA can be found here: www.socialeducationalneuroscience.com

Your duties
Your main tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Developing and programming of the tasks
  • Data collection: recruitment and participant testing
  • Data analysis
  • Manuscript preparation
  • Presentation of results at national and international conferences


  • A completed MSc degree in the field of psychology, preferably social psychology or developmental psychology
  • Experience with cognitive and/or physiological methods is desired
  • Interest in social development in children
  • Good knowledge of statistical data analysis
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Fluent in Dutch, writing and speaking (i.e., data collection will be in Dutch)
  • Good command of English
  • Good communication skills and ability to work in an interdisciplinary team


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,395 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter (max 2 pages) and provide the contact details of two referees before November 1, 2020.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

See also our other PhD positions on this project:
  • PhD position: development of social cognition in adolescence
  • PhD position: portable EEG research on social dynamics in schools

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Paul van Lange
Position: Hoogleraar
E-mail: p.a.m..van.lange@vu.nl

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