PhD Moving out of the brain: changing the course of depression and anxiety (1.0 FTE)

Updated: 14 days ago
Deadline: 01 Jul 2024

Depression and anxiety are often treated as mental disorders within individuals’ brains, therefore both prevention and intervention are largely aimed at the cognitive/brain level, disconnecting individuals from their body and environment. However, often these disorders emerge gradually from (interactions between) psychological, physical, and environmental processes. In the proposed project we want to closely examine these processes on an intra-individual level using an interdisciplinary approach combining movement sciences, psychology, and psychiatry. Our aim is to provide a better understanding of the development of anxiety and depression, and test possibilities for (behavioural) action to facilitate recovery and return to normal development.

In this PhD-project we take a mixed-methods approach. First, the PhD student will explore the role of agency and affordances in the development of anxiety and depression through a scoping review and a qualitative study with individuals with a history of anxiety/depression. Next, we investigate the possibilities of recovering from depression/anxiety by increasing agency through movement and social interaction in our stress-lab. We use ecologically valid experiments to gather rich, highly detailed information of individuals over time, measuring movement behaviour (kinematic/kinetic time series), psychological experience (interviews/questionnaires) and physiological stress-response (heart rate variability).

The tasks of the PhD candidate are

  • Conduct research that results in a dissertation and is in line with the objectives and requirements of the project.
  • Organize and execute the data collection for the different studies.
  • Publish the results of the research in international scientific journals.
  • Present the research findings to fellow scientists and developers in the larger project, and collaborate with them.

Provide a limited number of educational activities at the Developmental Pyschology department, such as small-scale tutorials and guest lectures, in collaboration with the supervisors.

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has had top priority for four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences excels in teaching and research in the fields of human behaviour, thinking, learning, and how people live together. We work on societal issues and problems that people experience in daily life. Central to this is individual and societal resilience and how to increase this. To this end, we focus on the topics of migration, the environment and climate, health, upbringing and education, the protection of vulnerable minorities, and sustainable partnerships. The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences employs over 650 staff members. For more information about the Faculty please check the link

The department of Developmental Psychology focuses on typical, atypical and talent development over the lifespan using a multidisciplinary approach.

For this position you are expected to

  • Have a (Research) Master's degree in Psychology or Human Movement Sciences (or a related discipline).
  • Have a good academic track record.
  • Be enthusiastic about writing international publications and a dissertation.
  • Have good academic English writing skills.
  • Have good social and communication skills and are willing to work with other team members.
  • Be enthusiastic about translating scientific insights into practical guidelines and advice
  • Have good organizational skills and the motivation to organize and realize data collection.
  • Have demonstrable competences as conceptual capacity, presenting, planning and organizing and monitoring.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • A salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time position. The position is classified in accordance with the University Job Classification (UFO) system; the UFO profile is PhD candidate.
  • A holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance.
  • Attractive secondary terms of employment.
  • A temporary employment of 1.0 FTE for a period of four years. You will first be employed for a period of one year. After a positive result and development interview, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of three years.

Intended starting date: 1 January 2025

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