PhD (4 Years) Position “Advancing our Understanding of Workaholism Using a Personality-Activating Situational Perspective”

Updated: 4 months ago
Deadline: ;

Do you have a completed MSc degree in the field of personality, clinical, and/or organizational psychology or related areas, and would you like to work in a multidisciplinary team of professionals in an academic environment? Please apply at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8-1

Job description
A full-time PhD position at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on the relations between personality, situations, and workaholism.

Personality, defined as a relatively stable psychological structure, is an important factor enabling the prediction of behavioral addictions and essential life outcomes. However, personality has been found to be only weakly to moderately related to workaholism. Consequently, studies of workaholism should account for additional – situational – factors to develop a better understanding of the connection between personality and workaholism. A basic assumption of this project is that traits will only be activated in specific situations, that is, only some situations will activate traits that are relevant for the development of workaholism. Furthermore, behavior regulation mechanisms may substantially contribute to the way workaholism develops.

Your duties
The current project aims to find, describe, and modify situations critical in activating personality traits that may induce workaholism. We will also investigate whether going through a workaholism-based burnout is related to changes in personality.

In this project, we define workaholism based on the Work Craving Theory (WCT; Wojdylo et al., 2013). This model is rooted in general mechanisms of behavioral addictions; it assumes that intensive working is the main strategy for work-addicted individuals to regulate their mood and to feel alive. Work-addicted individuals' high persistence and strong self-discipline when performing work-related activities may suggest that they adequately self-regulate behavior. However, intensive work appears to be mainly motivated by external factors and strong negative emotions, for instance, fear and anxiety, that cannot be attributed to adequate self-regulation. Notably, previous studies have failed to show what kind of situations activate the observed emotional states and behaviors of workaholics and whether the outcomes of workaholism can be considered consequences of the interaction between personality and situations.

We will conduct qualitative and quantitative studies; the latter will include cross-sectional and experience sampling studies. We also plan to employ ex-post-facto techniques. Utilizing open science practices is a default for this project.

The project will be supervised by Jacek Buczny and Reinout de Vries, both from the section Organizational Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. For this project, we would like to fill a full-time 4-year PhD position. A strong background in statistics and methodology and an interest in personality and behavioral addictions is recommended. The PhD project is expected to result in a dissertation and two or more international peer-reviewed publications about behavioral addiction and health in the workplace. Research and conference travel expenses will be reimbursed. The PhD will join the Kurt Lewin Institute (KLI) and/or the Interuniversity Graduate School of Psychometrics and Sociometrics (IOPS) and will be expected to follow PhD-courses at the KLI/IOPS or at the VU to fulfil the VU Graduate School criteria to obtain a PhD. Furthermore, the PhD is offered an opportunity 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, Organizational Science);
  • Research training and experience;
  • Excellent knowledge of methodology and statistics;
  • Excellent command of written and spoken English;
  • Good knowledge of office (MS Office) and statistical software (R/RStudio).

An educational plan that includes attendance to courses and (international) meetings will be drafted.

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 to €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (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 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended with another 3 years (for a total 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 employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • contribution to commuting expenses

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 endeavor – 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 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 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.


Selection will occur in three stages: a prescreening, (zoom) interview, and face-to-face interview stage. A work sample and a personality/cognitive ability assessment may be part of the selection procedure. Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until



Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

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

Name: Dr. Jacek Buczny or Prof. dr. Reinout E. de Vries
E-mail: or

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