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PhD candidate/Research Coordinator Diversity & Inclusion and Integrity & Ethical behavior

At the research group of distinguished university professor Naomi Ellemers we are looking for a PhD candidate (0.8 FTE) / research coordinator (0.2 FTE).

PhD project “Threatened but open-minded: A biopsychosocial approach to coping with social change”.


Modern societies undergo rapid change. This affects how individual and group-level characteristics relate to important life outcomes. People cannot be certain anymore about the implications of their professional qualifications (due to work being taken over by robots), societal roles (due to increasing demands for gender equality), or community life (due to increasing cultural diversity).

The prospect of social change, for example due to migration or changing gender-roles, can be rather threatening, especially for those who have much to lose (ethnic majority-group members, men). A typical defensive reaction to threat is cognitive rigidity, evident for example from further withdrawal into one’s own “bubble”. This undermines societal cohesion, and increases polarization between different groups in society. Thus, an important societal challenge is to help people retain a degree of open-mindedness and constructively deal with societal developments, even when under the threat of change.

Combining insights from social psychology, psychophysiology, and cognitive neuroscience, the current project aims to develop a psychophysiological perspective on coping with social change. The aim is to test different strategies that can make people more resilient and help them retain a degree of open-mindedness, even when under threat. These strategies will be tested in a series of experiments in lab- and field-settings (making use of a mobile lab).

The PhD-project will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Daan Scheepers and Prof. Dr. Naomi Ellemers.