PhD position – Closing the gap between the real world and the lab? Agent technology to extrapolate behavior change in the lab

PhD position – Closing the gap between the real world and the lab? Agent technology to extrapolate behavior change in the lab


Location Enschede
Function types PhD positions
Scientific fields Engineering, Health, Economics, Behaviour and Society
Hours 38.0 hours per week
Salary € 2125 – € 2593
Education University Graduate
Job number 714989
About employer University of Twente (UT)

Job description

In a modern society people regularly face decisions involving considerable risks. These include financial and social risks, uncertainty about future economic climate or risk of natural disasters. A rational agent paradigm alone cannot capture the whole complexity of people’s decision making. Behavioral sciences showed that such decisions are biased, and that biases in risk perception change with time depending on the information provided, on how it was framed, and on interactions within one’s social network. Social amplification of risks may exaggerate or attenuate perceptions of risks, corresponding behavioral choices, and their cumulative consequences for a society. This calls for tools that can trace changes in risk perceptions and corresponding behavioral changes in societies over long time-scales explicitly accounting for social interactions.

The ambition of this PhD project is to combine the strengths of laboratory experiments with human subjects and agent-based simulations to explore effects of risk information on risk perceptions and behavioral changes. Specifically, the project focuses on changes in individual risk perception and subsequent risky choices when people are exposed to information individually versus when social interactions with peers are allowed. It is important to know effects of scaling up laboratory results in time and in the number of participants. Modern technology permits running online large-scale experiments with mixed subjects – humans and computer agents parameterized with small-scale laboratory experiment data. This project focuses on flood risks.

You have a master degree and experience in either psychology/experimental economics with programming skills or experience with agent-based modeling, or mathematics/computer science with interest in psychology or decision-making under risk in general. You have strong quantitative skills, ability to program, knowledge of statistics and capacity to perform data analysis. You write and speak fluently in English. You have independent research and publication skills. Knowledge in the field of risk research or laboratory experiments is an advantage.

To apply for this position, please go to and select the current position from the list to fill in the online application form before March 15, 2015. Please include (1) your cover letter, (2) resume, and (3) a list of publications (if applicable).

Starting date: around May 2015. First reviews and interviews will start on March 16, 2015

For more information on this position please contact Dr. T.Filatova (,, Dr. Vries (, or Prof. J. van Hillegersberg (, ).

Conditions of employment
We offer a very challenging position in an inspiring environment. This position is a PhD project. As a PhD candidate you will be appointed in a full-time position for a period of three years (38 hours a week), leading to a dissertation. The gross monthly salary for a PhD increases from € 2125,- in the first year to € 2593,- in the third year (in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). The University of Twente offers additional attractive employment conditions.


The University of Twente. We stand for science and technology, high tech, human touch, education and research that matter. New technology which drives change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programs. The University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research. The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences strives to hold a leading position in their fields in relation to the science and technology research programs of the University of Twente. In all these fields, the faculty provides bachelor, master and professional development programs.

Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences
The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) strives to play a pivotal role in under­standing, co-engineering and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. Through ’social engineering’ these technological advances are embedded in society befitting human needs and behaviour, within proper public and private management and business structures. For this the faculty of BMS upholds high quality disciplinary knowledge in psychology, business administration, public administration, communication science, philosophy, educational science and health sciences. All with a focus on the challenges in society. Research is strongly connected to our Institutes on Governance (IGS), ICT (CTIT), Health (MIRA) and Nanotechnology (MESA+).

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