PhD position on comparing relations among psychological constructs across groups

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
June 15, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Negotigation
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PhD position on comparing relations among psychological constructs across


(ref. BAP-2023-277)

Last modification : Monday, May 15, 2023

You will be part of the research group Quantitative Psychology and Individual Differences under the supervision of professor Kim De Roover. Professor Yves Rosseel (Ghent University) will be the co-promotor of the PhD project. The research group is an international, collaborative and productive research environment with 6 professors and 25 PhD students and postdocs, from diverse backgrounds (besides psychologists, for example, statisticians, physicists and engineers). It includes top-level researchers in emotion, relationships, work, and culture, working with cutting edge data collection and statistical methods. See https: // ppw. for more information and for relevant publications. The KU Leuven is a research-oriented institution and is consistently ranked among the top research universities in Europe. Leuven is one of the oldest university towns in Europe, about 30 km from Brussels. It has a rich history and a unique friendly atmosphere.

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Many important research questions in psychology seek to uncover relations among psychological constructs that are not directly observable or ‘latent' – that is, they can only be measured indirectly via questionnaires. For example, does social pressure to be happy increase or decrease wellbeing? And how does experiencing negative affect relate to satisfaction with life? Structural equation modeling (SEM) is the state-of-the-art to model these relations. When comparing such ‘latent relations' across many groups (e.g., countries in a cross-national study), they likely differ among the groups (e.g., they may be culturally dependent). However, it is equally likely that some of the groups share the same relations such that ‘clusters' of groups emerge with respect to these latent relations (e.g., clusters of countries with a similar culture). This PhD-project is part of an ERC Starting Grant that aims to develop novel mixture SEM methods for finding such clusters. For doing so, differences in how the psychological constructs are measured by the questionnaire items – for example, differences in item interpretation or translation – should be unraveled from the differences in the psychological relations of interest. This becomes especially challenging when the measurement model – indicating which questionnaire items measure which psychological construct – is not known a priori (i.e., it is exploratory rather than confirmatory). This project focuses on mixture SEM methods that tackle these challenges by optimizing the comparability of the psychological constructs' relations while, at the same time, capturing clusters of groups with equivalent relations. These novel methods will give psychologists the tools to answer their important research questions, even when comparability across many groups is difficult. The project includes substantive applications of the novel methods and the development of user-friendly, open-source software.

  • You have a master's degree, preferably in (quantitative) psychology, or another master's degree that implies a profound knowledge of statistics, data analysis and programming.
  • You have a good knowledge of statistics, data analysis and programming.
  • You have affinity with psychology.
  • You are precise, creative, highly motivated and enthusiastic.
  • You have excellent English reporting skills (both oral and written).
  • You can work on your own, but also enjoy working in an interdisciplinary and interuniversity team.
  • Familiarity with structural equation modeling and/or mixture modeling is an asset.
  • Offer
  • a fully funded PhD position for four years, starting on October 1st, 2023.
  • an initial contract of a year that can be extended to four years.
  • an enthusiastic and supportive supervision team.
  • excellent research facilities, conference/travel budget, and a competitive salary with various additional benefits (in terms of holidays, health insurance, transport costs).
  • Interested?

    For more information please contact Prof. dr. Kim De Roover, tel.: +32 16 37 34 34, mail: [email protected].

    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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