PhD candidate Persuasive Visual Communication in Social Media & Automated analyses

Updated: 4 months ago
Deadline: 20 Jun 2019

Are you exceptionally interested in computational communication methods, visual communication and social media research? Do you like to understand how communication of peers influences others? We are seeking a PhD candidate who is interested in quantitative research into the persuasive effects of visual social media posts on other consumers, and who likes to bridge research insights developed in data science machine vision and communication science.
Social media applications that allow snapping, editing and sharing of photos have become tremendously popular. The adoption of these apps put an emphasis on visual brand communication. In these apps consumers share content about (their favourite) brands, by posting a “brand-selfie” in which the brand is shown as either a product or a logo. One out of three Internet users post negative or positive brand-related content, with the intent to connect with or persuade others.
The current project focuses both on the characteristics and the persuasive impact of visual content. With regard to visual content, previous research mainly focused on ‘what’ is pictured, irrespective of how it is pictured and with what intend. The current project focuses on both objective characteristics (e.g., brand logo) and perceptual characteristics (e.g., persuasive intent, product benefits). For the examination of content a combination of automatic and manual content analyses will be conducted. The impact of objective and perceptual content characteristics will be examined across different types of photo-sharing apps and different types of brands, with an emphasis on consumer responses that are relevant in the context of social media. Hypotheses with regard the impact of consumer-generated visual content will be tested in experimental designs.
This project is executed in partnership with SWOCC  and the Research Priority Area Communication and its Digital Communication Methods Lab.

What will you be doing?
  • Collect visual social media posts, including meta-data using state-of-the-art methods (conducting most of the process in Python or R);
  • analyse visual social media posts, including (textual) meta-data using state-of-the-art methods (e.g., machine vision);
  • conduct experimental studies with social media users examining the impact of visual social media posts;
  • write publications on newly collected datasets and present these on conferences;
  • organize knowledge dissemination & impact activities with stakeholders and practitioners.

What do we require of you?

Candidates for this position should have an academic degree in communication science, or a related field such as marketing, information science, social psychology or consumer behavior. A Research Master’s degree is a plus.

In addition, you:

  • are interested in research on visual communication;
  • are interested in computational communication methods;
  • have knowledge (or are willing to learn) about machine vision algorithms and machine vision APIs;
  • excel academically, as shown in the grade transcripts and curriculum vitae;
  • have elaborate experience with quantitative research methods, especially (manual and automated) content analysis, and experimental research, as indicated in their Master thesis and/or courses taken;
  • have an excellent written and spoken command of English;
  • are familiar with computer programming and programming languages, such as Python or R;
  • are familiar with mining social media;
  • wish to pursue an academic career;
  • have the ability (or are willing to learn) to collect and analyze large scale data sets;
  • are interested in disseminating academic knowledge, engaging in discussions and impact activities with societal stakeholders and practitioners.

What can we offer you?

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

Further Information

Do you have any questions, or do you require additional information?
A detailed project description may be obtained from:

Questions about the project content should be addressed to:

Questions about the application procedure and other general questions should be addressed to:

You may find the following websites useful:

Would you like to learn more about working at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)? Visit our website .


The position concerns a temporary appointment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of three years [from 15 September 2019 to 15 November 2022]. The initial appointment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 24 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. In close consultation with the supervisors, you will build a curriculum, which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events.
Your salary will be €2.325 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €2.972 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities . We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Does this profile sound like you? If so, we are eager to receive:

  • an ASCoR Application form ;
  • your CV and cover letter;
  • proof of your University degree;
  • an academic writing sample in English (e.g., journal article, Master’s thesis);
  • the names and contact addresses of two academic references from which information about the candidate can be obtained.

The deadline for applications is Thursday 20 June. Interviews will take place on Thursday 4 July 2019. If you are invited for an interview, we will ask you to write a 1-2 page research proposal to present at the job interview.
You can apply online by clicking on the link below. #LI-DNP     

No agencies please

View or Apply

Similar Positions