PhD position. Nudging children towards healthier food choices

BackgroundThe 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 ...

8 dagen geleden


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


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.

This project
The key objective of this 4 year PhD project 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 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.
In addition, the PhD candidate will spend 4 months in the US to conduct part of the research in the context of the Smarter Lunchrooms research program, and 4 months to work with the Netherlands Nutrition Centre to test the research implications in an applied setting.
Besides writing a PhD dissertation, you will present your work on conferences and through scientific publications.


The candidate has:

  • 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,
  • Clear scientific ambition in the conduct and publication of research work
  • Good control of English (both verbally and written)
  • A group-social, critical and positive learning attitude towards achieving excellence


We offer a a full-time PhD position for a period of 18 months, extended by another 30 months after positive evaluation. Gross yearly salary will increase from € 31010 in the first year up to € 39635 in the last year based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week). You will be working in a pleasant and inspiring environment in the context of an innovative research consortium.

The supervision of this project will be done by Dr Ellen van Kleef and Prof Dr Hans van Trijp. For more information about the post, please contact Please do not use this e-mail address to apply. Only applications sent to our website can be taken into consideration.

Additional information

More information
Dr Ellen van Kleef ( or Prof Dr Hans (HCM) van Trijp ( .

Please apply by uploading your CV and letter of motivatiom before September 25th.


The Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group is part of Wageningen University in the Social Sciences Group. 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.

Wageningen University and Research centre
Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus - each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society - such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don't do this alone. Every day, 6,500 people work on 'the quality of life', turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.


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