PhD candidates for NWO Loneliness project Disconnected: Assessing the Effects of Technology on Youth Loneliness

Updated: 4 months ago
Deadline: 29 Feb 2024

3 Feb 2024
Job Information

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
Research Field

Researcher Profile

First Stage Researcher (R1)

Application Deadline

29 Feb 2024 - 22:59 (UTC)
Type of Contract

Job Status

Not Applicable
Hours Per Week

Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?

Not funded by an EU programme
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?


Offer Description

The departments of Cognitive Robotics and Biomechanical Engineering at the Delft University of Technology and the department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Amsterdam UMC invite applicants for three positions in the project, “Disconnected: Assessing the Effects of Technology on Youth Loneliness”.

This project has been granted funding from NWO under the Dutch Research Agenda (Nationale Wetenschapsagenda; NWA), a program that focuses on key questions that have been established with input from citizens. Our project is aimed at scientific inquiry regarding loneliness in the target group of 18–26 years olds, and is part of a wider network of projects that address loneliness in various target groups.

Our consortium, consisting of Dr. Dimitra Dodou, Yke Bauke Eisma, Joost de Winter, and Nederveen, supplemented by various partner organizations in the field of technology and society, hypothesize that ‘technology’ plays a central role in the potential causes of loneliness, because technology can possibly create a distant form of inter-human connection. At the same time, technology may also provide a solution by connecting with people in a meaningful way. Through this project, we aim to identify the deeper causes of loneliness in society, and in this way, come up with valid recommendations, and solid scientific and empirically based knowledge about loneliness. Furthermore, we actively strive to reduce stigmas about loneliness in a well-informed manner.

We are looking for three PhD candidates:

PhD candidate 1 (employed at TU Delft): You will be responsible for executing the ‘Technology and Loneliness’ work package. During your PhD, you will examine the current use of technology among young adults, and the direct (short-term) effects of existing technologies such as smartphones and new technologies like chatbots, embodied robots, and augmented reality. You will conduct research in the lab at the TU Delft, but also in collaboration with the other two work packages, investigating the direct effects on subjective experiences, and also exploring and proposing new technological solutions to mitigate loneliness.

PhD candidate 2 (employed at TU Delft): You will be responsible for executing the ‘Cognition and Technology use’ work package. You will study the medium-term effects of technology on cognition and emotion, and among others, investigate the relationship between technology, loneliness, and stigmatization. You will make use of behavioral tracking and/or diary methods, large-scale online surveys, and experimental comparisons between lonely and non-lonely people.

PhD candidate 3 (employed at Amsterdam UMC): You will be responsible for executing the ‘Neuroscience of Technology use’ work package. The focus of this work package is to fundamentally understand how technology use, loneliness, and covariates affect the brain, both on a direct level (functional neuroimaging) and particularly on a more semi-permanent level (structural neuroimaging).

The three PhD candidates will regularly collaborate and conduct joint experiments. An important element is the input of the project partners by means of co-creation and design, and the development of appropriate strategies and recommendations to actually address loneliness. At a later stage of the project, generalizations will also be sought towards the other target groups, e.g., how technology can be used among older persons or people with mild intellectual disabilities.

The three PhD candidates will work in a challenging environment, with access to state-of-the-art lab facilities. You will participate in a multidisciplinary team with strong academic, industrial, and societal partnerships, and you will benefit from a collaborative research context.

Specific Requirements

Applicants should have the following qualifications:

  • MSc degree in engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive science, or neuroscience with a profound interest or specialization in human-technology interaction or human behavior.
  • Embracement of open science principles and modern communication tools.
  • Willingness to present at scientific events, willingness to engage with and travel to project partners, for joint research activities.
  • Proficiency in the Dutch language is a plus.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements .

Additional Information

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

Selection process

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply by February 29, 2024 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.

Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.

Additional comments

For more information about these vacancies, please contact Dr. Dimitra Dodou, e-mail: [email protected] for the two PhD positions at the TU Delft and Aart Nederveen, e-mail: [email protected] for the PhD position at Amsterdam UMC.

Website for additional job details

Work Location(s)
Number of offers available
Delft University of Technology
Postal Code
2628 CD
Mekelweg 2

Where to apply



Mekelweg 2
Postal Code

2628 CD


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