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PhD position in ITN Marie Curie Project Edulia. Nudging children towards healthier food choices

Wageningen University has a PhD position available within the ITN Marie Curie Project. The rise in childhood obesity is a worrying trend, also in relation to …

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Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur


Wageningen University has a PhD position available within the ITN Marie Curie Project. The rise in childhood obesity is a worrying trend, also in relation to its concomitant increase in rates of associated non-communicable diseases. There is a need for new approaches to drive children to like and actively choose healthy foods, developing healthier habits. One such approach, central to the present project is that of nudging approaches that could be utilized in school settings. Nudging builds on "tweaking the choice environment", or choice architecture of schools, in such a way that it is more likely that children will select the healthier option, often without realizing it, as a result of how the choice environment has been developed.

Nudging within the eating environment of pre-adolescent children is central to this research project as it is believed a way forward in helping children to develop healthier food habits.

The key objective of this 4 year PhD project within the ITN Marie Curie project Edulia (www.edulia.eu) is to develop new models for how nudging interventions impact health food choices, with a special role on feelings on autonomy and intrinsic motivation, and how such impacts develop over time. For this purpose, theory-based interventions will be designed and tested for their impact on healthy food choices. The target group is pre-adolescent children.

We are looking for a motivated candidate who can work independently as well as a part of an international team. The work place will be at Wageningen University (the Netherlands), but the candidate will be required to spend 3-month period at a research institute abroad in the second year. The candidate will also spend a short period at the Netherlands Nutrition Centre (The Hague, Netherlands) to test the research implications in an applied setting.

We are looking for a PhD candidate, who will investigate the theoretical and empirical basis for how changes in the choice environment can "nudge" children towards healthier food choices. In this project the candidate will

  • Create a theoretical framework on how changes in the choice environment impact children's healthy food choices, with a special emphasis on the roles of feelings of autonomy and intrinsic motivation.
  • Design and conduct studies focused on the development of influential nudging interventions to lead children to healthier eating habits.
  • Conduct studies to understand and unravel the effects of nudging interventions over time.
  • Combine different research methodologies, including lab studies, field experiments, and interventions in real life school context.
Your work will consist of a literature study and consumer behavior experiments, in real life settings where possible. The approach to the data collection is quantitative and requires skills with, or willingness to learn to interpret and conduct complex statistical procedures.

The Wageningen UR Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group is part of a EU funded consortium Edulia consisting of eleven PhD students from across Europe all working on the better understanding of how multiple factors act as barriers for children's' healthy eating and how to tackle them. You will work closed with these fellow PhD students as an opportunity to develop your European academic network.

Besides writing a PhD dissertation, you will present your work on conferences and through scientific publications.


Qualifications and personal characteristics important for the position are:
  • A university degree (MSc) in a food consumer behavior relevant field (e.g. consumer science, public health, marketing, social psychology, behavioral economics)
  • Affinity and demonstrable experience with quantitative research methods
  • Affinity with food consumption research and the impact of intake on overweight and obesity
  • Openness and willingness to collaborate with partners from other European countries and scientific disciplines
  • Availability and willingness to travel and work in different places in the world
  • Clear scientific ambition in the conduct and publication of research work
  • Good control of English (both verbally and written) and preferably also Dutch
  • A group-social, critical and positive learning attitude towards achieving excellence
Eligibility Requirements (must have)
  • Mobility: the candidates can be of any nationality; however, ITN programs require undertaking transnational mobility when taking up their appointment. The eligibility is determined by the date of recruitment: at the time of appointment, candidates must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment.
  • Early stage researcher: at the date of recruitment they should be in the first four years of their research careers (fulltime equivalent research experience) and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. 'Full-time equivalent research experience' is measured from the date when the researcher obtained the degree entitling to embark on a doctorate.


Wageningen University offers
We offer a full-time position (38 hours) as PhD candidate within the Marketing and Consumer Behaviour group of Wageningen University. The Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group is part of Wageningen University in the Social Sciences Group.

In principle is this a 48 month PhD position. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months, which shall be extended with 30 months after a positive evaluation. Salary will increase from € 2222,= gross per month the first year up to € 2840 in the last year, based on a fulltime appointment. In addition we offer a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary.

Additional information

The supervision of this project will be done by Dr Ellen van Kleef and Prof Hans van Trijp. For more information about the post, please contact Ellen.vanKleef@wur.nl. Please do not use this e-mail address to apply.

The following documents must be submitted to be considered for the position:
  • Application letter describing qualifications and motivation for the position
  • Curriculum vitae. If the candidate has any publication it should also be listed.
  • Copies of degree certificates and transcripts of academic records (all certified).
  • Two persons who may act as references (with phone numbers and e-mail addresses).
  • Applicants with a qualification from a foreign university are advised to provide an explanation of the grading system used by that university.


The mission of Wageningen University & Research is "To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life". Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

The Marketing and Consumer Behaviour group is at the forefront of agricultural marketing groups of the world. Our mission is to increase the sustainability of the food production chain through our knowledge and understanding of and contribution to marketing and consumer behavior research.