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PhD Fellowship in Psychology 2017, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Publish Date: Apr 10, 2017

Deadline: May 15, 2017

PhD position A dynamic network approach to understand household energy use


Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 30,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is a centre of knowledge focusing on individuals and society. The faculty studies issues relating to human behaviour, and the relationships between people and society as a whole. This includes the study of how people function under normal circumstances, but also of the problems encountered by individuals or groups, and how these can be resolved or prevented. The Department of Psychology is part of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, and offers Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in both Dutch and English to over 3000 students.

Environmental Psychology at the University of Groningen has a national and international reputation for excellence. Research within the Environmental Psychology group focuses on a wide range of topics, including individual and situational factors influencing sustainable behaviour (such as household energy use, car use, food consumption, recycling); factors influencing the effects of strategies to promote sustainable behaviour; the acceptability of energy sources, systems and policies; and the effects of sustainable behaviour on wellbeing. The research has the explicit aim of both contributing to theory development and practice, and is embedded in the research program Interpersonal Behaviour, as well as in two of the focus areas of the University of Groningen: Energy and Sustainable Society. The group collaborates with scholars from different disciplines within and outside the University of Groningen, as well as with governments, NGOs, and various business organisations.

Research within Psychometrics and Statistics group is concerned with quantitative techniques for the analysis of empirical data. The group has expertise in a wide range of statistical methods such as item response theory, multilevel theory, Bayesian statistics and time series and network modelling. The group actively co-operates with other groups within the Psychology department to support these groups in their research. Furthermore, the group has multiple national and international collaborations.

Job description

The Environmental Psychology group and the Psychometrics and Statistics group at the University of Groningen offer a PhD position in the project “Understanding energy behaviour within households: a dynamic network approach”. The project is aimed at developing and testing theory using state of the art statistical models to understand the dynamic processes that affect energy behaviour within households.

To mitigate anthropogenic climate change, a transition is needed towards a sustainable energy system that less strongly relies on fossil energy sources. Besides an increase in renewable energy production and use, a substantial increase in energy efficiency is needed. To realise this, substantial changes in a wide range of energy behaviours of individuals and households is needed. To design effective energy policy, it is important to understand which factors influence energy behaviour of individuals and households. Currently, studies typically relate individual factors (e.g., individual motivations and abilities) to household energy behaviour and energy use (e.g., thermostat settings in the home, total electricity use of a household). Indeed, many energy decisions are made within household level. Yet, the influence of different household members on such decisions, and the dynamics within households, over persons and over time, are poorly understood. In this PhD project, you will develop and test theory to understand which characteristics of household members, and interactions between household members affect energy behaviour in households. Moreover, you will develop and apply novel statistical models to test such dynamics within households. These models rely upon recent advances in the fields of time series modelling and psychometric network modelling. You will also set up and conduct a field experiment to collect data via innovative methods (e.g., smart phones, smart meters, frequent questionnaires) to validate the theory.

We are looking for a PhD candidate with expertise in Statistics and Psychometrics as well as in Environmental Psychology. You will publish the results of your studies in international scientific journals, which will be part of your PhD thesis, and you will present your studies at international conferences.


We are looking for a PhD candidate who is highly motivated to work on this topic, and is particularly interested in developing comprehensive statistical models and in conducting theory-based research with a high societal relevance. You have a creative, critical and independent research attitude and you are open to different perspectives on this research topic. You can work independently, but can also collaborate in an interdisciplinary team. You have completed a (Research) Master in Psychology with a focus on Statistics and Psychometrics and preferably also Environmental Psychology, or a scientific education that is closely related to this, or you expect to receive such a master degree soon. You have good communication skills in English and Dutch, both verbally and written (or willingness to learn Dutch).

Conditions of employment

The University of Groningen offers a salary of € 2,191 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 2,801 gross per month in the third year for a full time position. This temporary position lasts four years. You will first be appointed for a period of 12 months. After a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period.

Intended starting date is no later than 1 September 2017.


You may apply for this position until 14 May / before 15 May 2017 Dutch local time by means of the application form.

Applicants are requested to submit:
• a motivation letter stating your motivation to apply for the position and your key qualities relevant for this position
• an up-to-date curriculum vitae
• a list of course grades
• contact information of two academic references.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

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