PhD-student position: The cognitive stress response in daily life

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 13 Oct 2023

  • Vacancies
  • PhD-student position: The cognitive stress response in daily life

  • Key takeaways

    The experience of stress is an inherent aspect of daily-life. However, can we validly measure this in real life, and how and under what circumstances does it contribute to disease? We are looking for researchers that work on our exciting Stress in Action project.

    Stress in Action project:
    In this project, 65 multidisciplinary scientists from six Dutch Universities collaborate around the theme ‘stress in daily life’. Divided over three Research Themes and three Support Cores, the Stress in Action consortium will validate daily-life stress assessments, examine which contextual factors contribute to the experience of daily-life stress, and examine how daily-life stress leads to the development of both mental and cardiometabolic diseases. The project is funded through the Dutch Scientific Organization under the Gravitation program. More details can be found here: .

    What will you be doing?:

    As a PhD-student your main mission is to provide the Stress in Action community with tools for the continuous (and reliable) recording of the cognitive stress responses in daily life.

    You will start by reviewing the state of the art in active and passive sensing of cognitive aspects of the stress response. This review will focus on constructs underlying and relating to executive function based on both traditional tests as well as passive sensing methods. As an example, you may delve into the potential of passive sensing techniques, such as keystroke dynamics - observing how people type or interact with their smartphones - might provide insight into their cognitive state and potentially reflect varying levels of stress.

    Following this foundational work, you will initiate a secondary objective providing the consortium with an up-to-date overview of the best commercially available tools for measuring behavioural stress responses, especially focusing on sleep trackers. The relationship between outcomes from these behavioural tools and the cognitive tools will be explored.

    In parallel, you will also start validating the identified cognitive tools through lab and daily life studies. For instance, you could focus on comparing existing adaptations of traditional cognitive tests for smartphones, such as the Stroop test, which measures processes tapping on interference control and reaction time. By deploying such tests at different times, you will investigate how performance varies with stress levels and how passive and active sensing of the cognitive stress response varies over different tools.

    You'll harness the potential of these cognitive tools to determine optimal moments for participant responses to experience sampling items or just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAIs).

    By the end of the project, you will have contributed substantially to our understanding of the cognitive aspects of the stress response and provided valuable tools and methodologies for researchers in the field.

    Information and application

    Are you interested in this position? Please send your application via the ‘Apply now’ button below before 13-10-2023 and include:

    • A motivation letter
    • A detailed cv
    • Names of 2 people that we can contact for additional information

    For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Prof. Matthijs Noordzij,

    About the department

    The section PHT has a focus on the development and evaluation of engaging personalized and adaptive interventions. We have a strong culture of interdisciplinary research within the Health and Institutional Behaviour department to contribute to BMS Faculty themes like health and resilience. We also connect with technological groups like Industrial Design, Human-Media Interaction and Biomedical Signals and Systems in university-wide collaborations such as the TechMed Centre and the Design Lab

    About the organisation

    The Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social sciences (BMS) aims to play a key role in understanding, jointly developing and evaluating innovations in society. Technological developments are the engine of innovation. As a technical university that puts people first, we tailor them to human needs and behavior and use social engineering to integrate them into society. We also ensure adequate governance at public and private level, and robust, inclusive and fair organizational structures. We do this by developing, sharing and applying high-quality knowledge in Psychology, Business Administration, Public Administration, Communication Sciences, Philosophy, Educational Sciences and Health Sciences. Our research and education in these disciplines revolves around tackling and solving societal challenges. The research programs of BMS are closely linked to the research of the UT institutes Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology, TechMed Center and Digital Society Institute.

    As an employer, the Faculty of BMS offers work that matters. We equip you to create new possibilities for yourself and for our society. With us, you will become part of a leading technical university with increasing, positive social impact. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial atmosphere, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example through our flexible, adaptable benefits.

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