Fully funded PhD position in social psychology (The role of self-views in moral judgments and behavior) at KU Leuven

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
September 20, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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Fully funded PhD position in social psychology (The role of self-views in

moral judgments and behavior) at KU Leuven

(ref. BAP-2023-155)

Last modification : Friday, March 24, 2023

We offer a fully-funded four-year PhD position (funded by Research Foundation Flanders. FWO) 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. Sara Hodges, University of Oregon (USA).

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You will work on the project "Does feeling holier than others make one more or less moral? The effect of the belief in moral self-superiority on moral judgment, action, and sanctioning", financed by FWO (grant number G052023N). Most people believe that they are morally better than others. For example, they believe that they are fairer, more just, less hateful, and less vindictive than average. However, little is known about the effects of this belief on how people judge morally good or bad behavior, on their choices in situations where their moral norms are at stake (e.g., when they can cheat in a competition), and on the extent to which they reward morally good actions and punish morally bad actions of others. Earlier research suggests conflicting hypotheses. It is important to examine these because of the robust evidence for widespread moral superiority beliefs and because of the important role of the self-concept in behavioral choices, as demonstrated in other domains. It is also important because there is a moral aspect to choices that people make on a daily basis and to almost all large-scale societal challenges -- from curbing pandemics to fighting poverty. In this project, we will compare hypotheses about the relationship between moral self-superiority beliefs and moral judgments and choices. We will do so through experiments and a longitudinal study.

As a predoctoral researcher, you will play an important role in preparing and conducting the studies, 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, but also in seminars within and outside the research group, and in regular online meetings with the research team.


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

  • You have graduated or expect to graduate with excellent grades.
  • You are motivated to obtain a PhD in social psychology.
  • You are greatly interested in research on the self-concept and/or moral behavior.
  • You have a strong basis in research methods and statistics (including statistical packages).
  • You have both the desire and the ability to expand your methodological and statistical skills.
  • Experience or knowledge regarding experimental and/or longitudinal research and the analysis of data from it is an asset.
  • You have an excellent command of English.
  • Knowledge of Dutch or another European language is 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 for research and conferences.
  • Offer

    We offer:

  • A full-time appointment, initially for one year, but given satisfactory performance for 4 years in total.
  • Excellent research facilities.
  • Cohesive and supportive research groups, led by committed professors.
  • Stimulating, creative environments with excellent reputations and many international collaborations.
  • Opportunities for further professional development through seminars in various research groups at KU Leuven and at the University of Oregon, 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 in university restaurants, sports and cultural facilities, etc...
  • Interested?

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

    Please apply via the online application system of KU Leuven. Qualified candidates will receive an invitation for an interview that may take place in a hybrid format. We will evaluate candidates on a rolling basis and may close the vacancy when the position is filled. We encourage candidates who have 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]).

    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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