Postdoctoral researcher on the social and emotional roots of populism (DEMOS) project

Job description

Within the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, there are several interdisciplinary research cooperations. We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher for a recently European funded research project (DEMOS: Democratic Efficacy and the Varieties of Populism in Europe) that examines emotional and social psychological foundations of populism in Europe. One subproject is lead by the University of Amsterdam (PI’s: Prof Agneta Fischer and Prof Jan Willem Duyvendak), integrating sociological and psychological expertise. In this project we cooperate with the University of Hamburg (Germany), Kauno Technological University (Lithuania) and the Magyar Tudomanyos Academy in Bupast (Hungary). The postdoctoral researcher will be situated in the social psychology group.


The goal of the project is to examine populism from a citizen’s perspective and aim to (1) understand the social psychological and emotional roots of populism and to (2) examine factors that could improve citizen’s awareness of and resilience against populist influences.


For the first goal, we test the core assumption that populist arguments are grounded in sentiments about one’s position in the current society. One’s social identity shapes the type of emotions that one feels for refugees/immigrants and elite groups and these emotions are the basis for populist attitudes. This relationship, however, may be influenced by various country-level factors and therefore it is important to investigate the different social psychological predictors also at a cross-national level. We will further examine different predictors of populist attitudes in experimental settings, and conduct interviews with focus groups of people who favour populist views and ask them about their motives to support these views. Furthermore, we examine information processing, especially the use of sentiments (versus the search for information) that increase the proneness to adhere to populist arguments and attitudes.


What will you be doing?

You will be part of the H2020 DEMOS project and you will:

conduct multi-level analysis of secondary data (Eurostat, European Social Survey, etc.);
collect and analyse new survey data in different European countries on social identity, emotions and populiism etc.;
design experiments on cognitive processing styles, framing and populist attitudes;
conduct interviews with populist voters to gain more insight into motives for populism.



What do we require of you?


You have:

a PhD in the social sciences, preferably sociology;
expertise and experience in different methodologies, among which preferably big data analysis and designing surveys;
knowledge of some aspects of the topic.


You are:

fluent in English;
good in communication;
willing to cooperate with researchers from other countries in Europe (including willing to travel).


What can we offer you?

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and sufficient scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. We cherish enquiring minds and persevering spirits, and allow you space to dig deeper with your questions. Diverse, unique, dynamic, internationally oriented and ambitious: these are all characteristics which typify UvA staff. Strongly committed to the city of Amsterdam and the international society of which it is part, the UvA stands for independence, creativity, innovation, an international perspective and a critical yet open mindset.
Conditions of employment


The position concerns a temporary appointment of 38 hours a week for period of a year, with a possible extension of 2 years.


Salary depends on past education and relevant work experience, with a minimum salary of €3,545 and a maximum of €4,852 gross per month based on a full-time appointment for a 38-hour working week (in keeping with scale 11, as per the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary employee benefits, including a generous holiday scheme and year-end bonus. Because we value your continued personal development and professionalisation, we also offer excellent opportunities for study and development.


University of Amsterdam

With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.


The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.
Department of Psychology


The Department of Psychology is a part of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG), which is the largest educational and research institution in the social sciences in the Netherlands. The Faculty serves 7500 students in numerous Bachelor and Master programs in Psychology, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Communication Science, Social Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, and Educational Sciences. Psychology is situated centrally in Amsterdam, and hosts program groups focusing on social, organizational, developmental, clinical, statistical, and cognitive psychology. It offers excellent facilities for undertaking research in a broad range of areas, including a range of psychophysiological, behavioral, EEG and TMS laboratories, as well as a 3T and 7T MRI scanner.

Additional information

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

Agneta Fischer, Professsor in Social and Affective Processes
Jan Willem Duyvendak, Professor in Sociology


Does this profile sound like you? If so, we are eager to receive your CV and covering letter.

You can apply online by clicking on this link.

The deadline for applications is 1 November 2018.



  • Postdoc positions
  • Behaviour and Society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €3545—€4852 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 18-611