PhD position Personality and Situational Strength in Economic Games and Organizational settings

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • PhD position Personality and Situational Strength in Economic Games and Organizational settings
  • University Graduate
Do you have a Research Master or Master in Psychology or closely related discipline (e.g., Behavioral Economics, Sociology)? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 1

Job description

Personality and Situational Strength in Economic Games and Organizational settings

A full-time PhD position at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on personality and situational strength in economic games and organizational settings.

One of the truisms in psychology states that strong situations restrict behavioral variance and thus prevent personality from influencing behaviors. Originally formulated by Mischel (1973), the situational strength hypothesis has had an important influence on the person-situation debate, stressing the importance of both personality and situation characteristics for behavior. However, situations in this view are given the primacy, because they afford—or not—the expression of certain personality traits. That is, personality is important, but only in weak situations; in strong situations, by contrast, the strong situation truism states that personality does not matter or at least to a relatively minor degree.

Lately, however, cracks in this truism have appeared. Not only have strong situations been argued to be (sometimes) associated with stronger personality-behavior relations (Cooper & Withey, 2009), but researchers have also started to question the restricted behavioral variance assumption, noting that behavioral variance does not seem to be restricted to a greater degree in strong than in weak situations (Keeler et al., 2019). In general, there is a lack of systematic investigations on the situational strength hypothesis. The PhD project will address this gap by thoroughly studying the situational strength hypothesis based on the Situation-Trait-Outcome Activation (STOA) model of personality and situational affordances that allow—or not—for the expression of personality-relevant behaviors (De Vries et al., 2016). Furthermore, because social dilemmas provide a perfect context to advance our knowledge on this topic, part of the studies will be conducted using economic games. Specifically, the project will investigate different questions related to the link between personality and situational strength in economic games and in organizational settings.

The project will be supervised by a team of personality and cooperation researchers, i.e., Reinout de Vries (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Isabel Thielmann (University of Koblenz-Landau), and Daniel Balliet (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), who have published widely on personality and on cooperation in economic games. For this project, we would like to fill a full-time 4-year PhD position at the nexus of personality, social, and organizational psychology. A strong background in statistics and methodology and an interest in economic games, personality, social, and/or organizational psychology is recommended. The PhD project is expected to result in a dissertation and one or more international peer-reviewed publications about personality and situational strength. Research and conference travel expenses will be reimbursed. The PhD will join the Kurt Lewin Institute (KLI) and will be expected to follow PhD-courses at the KLI or at the VU to fulfil the VU graduate school criteria to obtain a PhD. Furthermore, the PhD is expected to yearly supervise a few master- and B-thesis students and to assist in teaching and/or other departmental activities (e.g., organizing colloquia or department outings).


  • research Master or Master in Psychology or closely related discipline (e.g., Behavioral Economics, Sociology);
  • research training and experience;
  • excellent knowledge of methodology and statistics;
  • excellent command of written and spoken English;
  • good knowledge of office and statistical software (MS Office, SPSS, R).

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,325 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €2,972 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 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 employmen
  • 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. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

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.

About the department
The Organizational and Social Psychology groups at the Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology in the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences ( investigate themes such as social and organizational behaviors, personality, cooperation, leadership, evolutionary psychology, and group and intergroup dynamics, using innovating theoretical approaches and methodologies grounded in psychology (e.g., (economic) games, laboratory experiments, field studies, meta-analyses, genetics, neuroscience). The Department provides a vibrant, international research climate with high quality academic staff, PhDs, and (research master) students who are supported by excellent research facilities (e.g., multiple labs for experimental research, equipment for neuroscience measures), industrial partners, and expertise in statistics. The Department has a top international reputation in psychological science, as indicated by excellent research assessments, high quality publications, high standards for teaching and mentoring, and frequent visits by international scientists.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 21 May 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. dr Reinout de Vries
Position: Professor

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