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PhD position Developmental variability and Piaget’s new theory (0.8 FTE) (222748E)

Job description

This project will be the first to undertake a systematic longitudinal investigation of cognitive variability in children of five to eight years, across a wide range of tasks. We will scrutinize this unique dataset in search of dynamic patterns of development and developmental transitions. What also makes this project unique is that we will connect our findings to “Piaget’s new theory”, as a source of related but neglected historical ideas regarding developmental plasticity, reaction ranges, and open systems.

This project combines empirical, theoretical, and historical aspects of developmental science. Importantly, therefore, the candidate should have affinity with these fields and should be up to the challenge of addressing each of them as well as linking them in the project.

The tasks of the PhD candidate are:

  • conduct research that results in a dissertation and is in line with the objectives and requirements of the project
  • organize and execute the data collection for the different studies
  • publish the results of the research in international scientific journals
  • present the research findings to fellow scientists and developers in the larger project, and collaborate with them
  • provide a limited number of educational activities at the Psychology department, such as small-scale tutorials and guest lectures, in collaboration with the supervisors.


For this position you are expected to:

  • have a (research) master's degree in developmental, experimental, or theoretical and historical psychology, or a related discipline like pedagogical science or movement science
  • have a good academic track record
  • be enthusiastic about writing international publications and a dissertation
  • have good academic English writing skills, and be fluent in Dutch (or prepared to learn this very quickly) since the data collection requires proficient communication with children
  • have good social and communication skills and are willing to work with other team members
  • be enthusiastic about translating (historical) scientific insights into practical guidelines and advice
  • have good organizational skills and the motivation to organize and realize data collection
  • have demonstrable competences as conceptual capacity, presenting, planning and organizing and monitoring
  • have an affinity for working with young children
  • have an interest in complex dynamical systems and nonlinear time-series analyses, and are willing to learn about this.


The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has had top priority for four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

Our Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is a center of knowledge focusing on individuals and society. We study issues relating to human behaviour, and the relationships between people and society as a whole. This includes the study of how people function under normal circumstances, but also of the problems encountered by individuals or groups, and how to resolve or prevent these. Our Faculty employs about 650 employees. For more information about the Faculty please check the link

The PhD project is a collaboration of the Developmental Psychology and Theory and History of Psychology groups within the Heymans Institute for Psychological Research. The candidate will be part of the Developmental Psychology group. Developmental Psychology studies processes of typical and atypical development. Research focuses on the entire life span, from infancy to the old age, and with an applied as well as fundamental focus. The Theory and History of Psychology group is unique in Europe, and so this collaboration offers an opportunity not possible elsewhere.

Conditions of employment

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 3,247 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time position
  • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
  • attractive secondary terms of employment
  • a temporary position of 0.8 FTE for a period of five years. You will first be appointed for a period of 12 months. After a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period. The position is classified in accordance with the University Job Classification (UFO) system; the UFO profile is PhD candidate.

Intended starting date: 1 February 2023


You may apply for this position until 30 November 11:59pm / before 1 December 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website). Only submissions via the application form will be considered.

The selection interviews will take place in the second/third week of December 2022.

Dr. Ralf Cox:
Jeremy Burman, PhD:
Prof. dr. Marijn van Dijk:

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:
Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

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For information you can contact:

  • Dr R.F.A. (Ralf) Cox, +31 50 3636547, r.f.a.cox

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.