Fully funded PhD position in experimental social psychology (Stereotypes and verbal communication about social groups) at KU Leuven

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
September 20, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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Fully funded PhD position in experimental social psychology (Stereotypes

and verbal communication about social groups) at KU Leuven

(ref. BAP-2023-156)

Last modification : Friday, March 24, 2023

We offer a fully funded four-year PhD position (funded by FWO Research Foundation Flanders) in the Laboratory of Experimental Social Psychology (LESP) of KU Leuven. LESP belongs to the Research Group Methods, Individual and Cultural Differences, Affect, and Social Behavior (MICAS) in the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of KU Leuven. Led by Prof. Vera Hoorens, LESP will from Fall 2023 on consist of 4 doctoral students, 2 research interns, and 10-12 master thesis students. It is a vivid, cohesive, and productive research group, strongly committed to fostering collaborations, Responsible Research Practices, and FAIR and Open Science. As a PhD student, you will be enrolled in the doctoral program of the faculty. You will devote nearly all your time to your doctoral research and the doctoral training program, with minimal teaching and administrative tasks. Your supervisors and main advisors will be Prof. Vera Hoorens (LESP) and Prof. Susanne Bruckmüller, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany). The philosopher of language Prof. Filip Buekens from the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science (KU Leuven) is involved in a consulting role.

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You will work on the project Are old folks wise, or are they wiser than youngsters? How the wording of claims about social groups spreads stereotypes , funded by FWO (grant number G053623N).

People's views of social groups (e.g. age, gender, professional, religious and ethnic groups) do not only manifest themselves in what they say or write about those groups, but also in how they express it. With most readers and listeners paying more attention to the contents than to the wording of verbal communication, the wording can imperceptibly affect how readers and listeners think about the described group(s). An important but as yet understudied aspect of the wording of claims about social groups is their comparative format the extent to, and the manner in which claims explicitly state that an intergroup comparison is being involved. For example, the claim Old people are wise does not explicitly compare groups, even though it suggests that old people are wiser than members of other age groups. Old people are wiser than younger people makes that comparison explicit. From a purely logical point of view, Younger people are less wise than old people makes the same comparison. However, readers or listeners will probably understand it very differently. This project examines determinants of the comparative formats that communicators use and the extent to which comparative formats shape the interpretation of claims by readers and listeners. It also examines to what extent and in which manner both processes jointly contribute to the spreading of stereotypes. The project will test hypotheses derived from theories and findings from social and cognitive psychology, linguistics, and philosophy.

As a predoctoral researcher, you will play a major role in preparing and conducting the experiments, analyzing and interpreting the data, publishing the research, and disseminating the results to a wider audience. You will participate in the weekly lab meetings of the LESP, as well as in seminars within and outside the research group, and in regular online meetings with Susanne Bruckmüller.


You are a recently graduated Master in Psychology or Research Master (in one of the Behavioural or Social Sciences) or you will graduate no later than September 2023.

  • You have graduated or expect to graduate with excellent grades.
  • You are strongly motivated to obtain a PhD in the field of experimental social psychology, and specifically on the crossroads of verbal communication and social cognition.
  • You have a strong basis in research methods and statistics (including statistical packages)
  • You possess both the desire and ability to expand your methodological and statistical skills
  • You have an excellent command of English.
  • Good knowledge of Dutch and/or German (or another European language) may be an asset, but is not required.
  • You have good communication skills, both written and oral.
  • You are well organized and capable of taking initiative and working independently.
  • You are also flexible and you have a collegial attitude.
  • You are committed to FAIR and Open Science, Research Ethics, and Responsible Research Practices.
  • You are willing to move to Belgium and to travel (mainly in Europe, particularly Germany) for research and conferences.
  • Offer

    We offer:

  • A full-time appointment, initially for the duration of one year, but given satisfactory performance to be extended to 4 years in total.
  • Excellent research facilities.
  • Cohesive and supportive research groups, led by committed professors and embedded in stimulating, creative environments with excellent international reputations and many international collaborations.
  • Opportunities for further professional development through seminars in various research groups at KU Leuven and FAU, the Doctoral School for the Humanities and Social Sciences of KU Leuven, and opportunities to participate in national and international summer schools and conferences.
  • Additional benefits for academic staff at KU Leuven: paid holidays, reimbursement of costs for commuting by public transport, advantageous health and hospitalization insurance, discount on access to university restaurants, sports facilities, etc...
  • Interested?

    For more information, please contact prof. Vera Hoorens, tel. +32 16 32 60 28, [email protected], or prof. Susanne Bruckmüller, [email protected]

    Please apply via the online application system of KU Leuven. We will evaluate candidates on a rolling basis and may close the vacancy when the position is filled. We encourage candidates with a strong interest in applying but who expect that they will only be able to do so somewhat later within the response window (e.g., because of exams) to send a letter of intention through e-mail (to [email protected]).

    Qualified candidates will receive an invitation for an interview that may take place in a hybrid format.

    Apply with:

    1. A motivation letter (in English)

    2. Your CV (in English)

    3. An academic text written by you, e.g., a master's thesis (in English, Dutch, German, or French)

    4. Two letters of reference.

    The job start date is to be agreed upon, but will ideally be between 1 September and 1 October 2023

    KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at [email protected].

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