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About us Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences

Vacancies Sector Plan Social Sciences

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen, is looking for 7 Postdoctoral Researchers in the areas of:

Resilience in Youth

Postdoctoral researcher positions in the theme Resilience in Youth

What conditions need to be fulfilled for children and adolescents to grow up healthily and happily? How do individual factors such as personality traits or genetic predispositions support positive development and what is the role of one’s social network? Individual and contextual perspectives need to be combined and special attention needs to be paid to mechanisms through which, for example, parents, teachers or friends influence the development of young people, while taking into account the individual characteristics young people bring. Understanding how the dynamic interplay between young people and their surroundings shapes development helps us to support children and adolescents to grow into adults who contribute valuably to the society of today and the future. A person-environment perspective also aids in understanding why some thrive despite facing risks or adversities, which may aid in early identification and developing effective interventions for others.

We are looking for two postdoctoral researchers who are keen on working on questions such as:

  • How do individual and contextual conditions play together to shape development from childhood through adulthood?
  • What are risk and protective factors for healthy and happy development? Why do some young people thrive despite of risks? What role do parents and peers play in strengthening resilience?
  • How can young people be supported to grow into adults who successfully navigate a rapidly changing world and different types of adversities?
  • How can young people make the best use of the opportunities offered to them and how can inequalities be prevented?

Resilience in Youth – 2 positions (application form
Vacancy number 222496-97
Tina Kretschmer, email: t.kretschmer

Societal Transitions and Behavioral Change

Postdoctoral researcher positions in the theme Societal Transitions and Behavioral Change

In the past decades there have been many attempts to instigate and accelerate societal transitions, such as initiatives to mitigate the climate and energy crisis and endeavors to build institutions that foster healthier lifestyles and make workplaces and communities more inclusive and participative. In order to achieve this, governments, civil society, businesses and academics have devised and implemented a plethora of policies and interventions, ranging from national policy changes and regional collaborative structures, to experiments with new organizational forms and alternative approaches to the governance of local communities and the leadership of work teams. Unfortunately, these transition attempts often do not generate the desired results.

Realizing lasting societal transitions requires that institutional and organizational solutions take the growing body of behavioral insights into account and that (intervention) research includes institutional-organizational context conditions.

Our goal is not only to understand why and in what circumstances policies and interventions do not generate the intended effects, but also to provide insights on how to increase the likelihood of success of future transitions. The focus is thereby also on the question how intended effects of transitions can be sustained in the long run.

We are looking for two postdoctoral researchers who are interested in working on questions like:

  • How do dynamics at different levels of social aggregation (system, organization, group and individual) influence each other?
  • What does this mean for the way in which interventions at these levels can be positioned in relation to each other?
  • How can administrative processes at different levels of (internal) governance, innovation policy, organizational change and behavioral interventions be meaningfully aligned to stimulate transition?
  • How can we ensure that trust in the democratic constitutional state is maintained during these transitions?
  • Which processes of inclusion and exclusion take place in different phases of transitions?
  • How can we ensure that transitions and behavioral change take place in a democratic way, and what are these democratic principles?

Societal Transitions and Behavioral Change – 2 positions (application form
Vacancy number 222498-99
Rafael Wittek, email: r.p.m.wittek

Mental Health

Postdoctoral researcher positions in the theme Mental Health

Mental health is an important topic for society, clinical care and research. Yet mental health research is also associated with difficulties. For example, strategies to prevent mental disorders run the risk of overdiagnosing and overtreating individuals. Also there are many unknowns, including processes leading to, and maintaining mental disorders. Innovations to improve treatment effectiveness are needed, which may include a personalized approach, or a focus on, and the promotion of, positive mental health.

We are looking for two postdoctoral researchers who are interested to work on questions such as:

  • How do individual and contextual stressful events lead to mental health problems in some but not in others?
  • What are effective prevention strategies and interventions for mental health problems and for whom do they work best?
  • How can we support people to develop positive mental health?
  • How do day-to-day emotion fluctuations result in a favourable or unfavourable course of mental health?

Mental Health – 2 positions (application form
Vacancy number 222500-01
Peter de Jonge: email:

Educational Sciences

Postdoctoral researcher position: The bright future of education

When the dust settles from the global pandemic, what will education look like, what should it look like and what kind of teaching is needed in specific regions? One thing we have learnt from nationwide remote education, school closure, and the fast pace of digitization, is that human connections are the beating heart of education. The role of the teacher in the school community is irreplaceable.

However, the current societal problems with regards to equity, literacy, inclusive education, and teacher shortages require rethinking of the role of teachers.

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher who is keen on working on questions such as:

  • What is needed to ensure a bright future of education?
  • How can we adequately prepare teachers and schools for this irreplaceable role in the context of these societal issues?
  • To what extent does the current way schools and teaching are organized, facilitate such a new role of teachers?
  • What are the implications for how the work of teachers in schools is organized?
  • Does the current qualification structure and teacher training appropriately match the challenges we face in education? How can universities, HBO and MBO, in collaboration with (special) primary and secondary education, contribute to this discussion and improvement?

Are you the postdoctoral researcher in the (broadly defined) field of Educational Sciences to shed new light on these issues? Research methods such as literature research, historical research, international comparative research and empirical research (quantitative, qualitative or mixed-methods) can be used to gain new insights into these fundamental and urgent issues.

Educational Sciences – 1 position (application form
Vacancy number 222502
Hanke Korpershoek, email: h.korpershoek

For all positions, candidates should have obtained a PhD degree in a relevant subfield of the social sciences (or will shortly obtain the PhD degree). We expect that candidates are prepared to work across social science disciplines in order to advance their thematic topic.

When you are interested in one of the vacancies, please apply by sending in an application letter, your CV, and other relevant documents. Do also send in a short proposal (max 2 pages) sketching your potential contribution to the research theme.

Faculty Profile

The thematic profiling for our teaching and research is based on our common denominator: Societal and individual resilience. This heading includes teaching and research on changes in society and their effects on people—on migration, the environment and climate, health, upbringing, education, the protection of vulnerable minorities and the implementation of effective and sustainable cooperation within and between groups. It also includes the domain of care for extremely vulnerable children and families, and—more generally—diagnostics (and psycho-diagnostics), healthy ageing and the treatment of people with physical disabilities or mental health problems.

In the coming five years, we aim to sharpen our profile even more according to the themes mentioned. We will do this under the heading of three themes for both teaching and research:

  1. Resilience in youth
  2. Mental health
  3. Societal transitions and behavioural change

Also we will invest extra resources in educational science (broadly understood). Our faculty offers four Bachelor’s degree programmes (Academic Teacher Training for Primary Education; Sociology; Pedagogy and Educational Sciences; and Psychology) and six Master’s degree programmes (Research Master Behavioural and Social Sciences; Educational Sciences; Pedagogical Sciences; Psychology; Sociology and the Teacher Training programmes.

Our research is organized in three institutes (Heymans Institute for psychology, Nieuwenhuis institute for pedagogical and educational sciences, and teacher training, and ICS/Sociology). Our Research Master programme Behavioural and Social Sciences provides three tracks that fit in with our research and teaching themes (Mental health: perspectives from neuro- and clinical psychology; Lifespan Development and Socialization; and Understanding Societal Change).

In the Netherlands, Europe and worldwide, there are many complex social issues at stake. The most recent example is the outbreak of COVID-19, where it became clear that this is not only a medical and epidemiological issue, but also a social and behavioural one. There are many other similar issues. What is our answer to the growing gap between rich and poor? Why is it that the number of people with mental health problems is increasing and what can we do to counter this trend? How are we really going to stop global warming? How can we restore the eroding trust in democratic institutions? And how should we deal with the increasing control by algorithms in everyday life and economy?

Human behaviour in social, economic and institutional structures plays a key role in such questions. This was well illustrated by the outbreak of COVID-19 and its impact on society. Understanding human behaviour, sustainable transitions and the foundations of stable and resilient organisations is necessary to solve complex social issues. The Social and Behavioural Sciences offer these insights. But in order to work on sustainable solutions, more intensive cooperation within and outside the disciplines of our domain is necessary.

[From: Van Inzicht naar Impact]

Last modified:22 July 2022 4.47 p.m.