Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Doctorate
Do you have a PhD in Anthropology, Human Behavioral Ecology, or closely related discipline (cross-cultural psych.)? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 1

Job description

General Description
One Postdoc position of three years for 1.0 fte is available at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Balliet and Prof. Lee Cronk (Rutgers University, USA). The PhD position is funded by the ERC Consolidator Grant for a project on “The Ecological Origins of Cross-Societal Variation in Cooperation”. The postdoc will work closely with Daniel Balliet, Lee Cronk, and Athena Aktipis (Arizona State University) to coordinate a team of 23 Anthropologists to conduct a field study on the topics outlined below.
The Research Project
A puzzle facing the social sciences is understanding the origin of cross-societal variation in cooperation. Strikingly, multiple disciplines propose the same, not yet established, explanation: ecological conditions, such as subsistence, environmental hazards, and relational mobility, determine how people are interdependent (i.e. how actions affect own and others’ outcomes), and interdependence can be the mechanism through which diverse ecologies shape a culture of cooperation. For example, rice versus wheat production plausibly has led to more versus less dependence on others, which then led to different cultures (e.g. values, beliefs, and norms) that affect strategies of when and how people cooperate. In this project we use a multi-discipline, multi-method approach to answer three questions about whether ecologies indeed create different interdependence, and how this leads to variation in culture and cooperation.
  1. Do ecologies create different kinds of interdependence? We will measure the interdependence and cooperation people experience across different ecologies in 23 contemporary small-scale societies, among rice and wheat farmers in China (in collaboration with a team working from Beijing China), and in over 200 societies documented in the ethnographic record (using eHRAF).
  2. Can interdependence cause differences in culture and cooperation? We will
    use agent-based models and experiments to study how variation in interdependence can cause different norms of cooperation.
  3. Does variation in interdependence relate to culture and cooperation? We will apply experience sampling to measure interdependence and cooperation in daily life across 35 societies that vary in culture.
This postdoc will primarily work on the first question in two projects: (1) a collaboration with 23 other Anthropologists working at different field sites and (2) a team of computer scientists to analyze ethnographies in eHRAF. Importantly, the postdoc will be part of a larger team working on research programs addressing each of these questions, and there may be opportunities to collaborate on other aspects of the project. This postdoc project will involve a collaboration between Psychology (Daniel Balliet), Human Behavioral Ecology (Lee Cronk, Rutgers University), and the computer sciences, and so the candidate must have an openness to working in an interdisciplinary team.


  • PhD in Anthropology, Human Behavioral Ecology, or closely related discipline (cross-cultural psych.)
  • Extensive research training and experience
  • Excellent knowledge of field methodology and statistics (experience using eHRAF is desirable)
  • The intention to work in a multi-disciplinary team (anthropology, psychology, computer science)
  • Demonstrated an ability to publish high-impact scientific papers
  • Excellent command of written and spoken English
  • Good knowledge of statistical software (SPSS, R)

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,709 (scale 10-0)
and a maximum €4,274 (scale 10-12), depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will be initially for 1 year. After satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, it can be extended for an additional 2 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment, 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, solid pension scheme (ABP), contribution to commuting expenses, a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,500 students. We employ more than 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.

Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences
The Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences focuses on the broad domain of behaviour and health. Our teaching and research programmes are devoted to current developments in society, from healthy aging to e-health, from juvenile crime to dealing with depression, from training for top athletes to social media as a teaching tool. We are unique in that we combine three academic disciplines: psychology, movement sciences and education.

Working at Behavioural and Movement Sciences means working in an ambitious organization that is characterized by an informal atmosphere and short lines of communication. Our faculty offers tremendous scope for personal development. We employ more than 600 staff members, and we are home to around 3,400 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 15 March 2020.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Prof. Daniel Balliet
Telephone: +31 20 59 82884

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