PhD The psychology of climate change adaptation actions of individual and groups


Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences


University of Groningen

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 30,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is a centre of knowledge focusing on individuals and society. The faculty studies issues relating to human behaviour, and the relationships between people and society. This includes the study of how people function under normal circumstances, and of the problems encountered by individuals or groups, and how these can be resolved or prevented. The Department of Psychology is part of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, and offers Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in both Dutch and English to over 3000 students, including the international Master programme Environmental Psychology (

Job description

The Environmental Psychology group at the University of Groningen offers a PhD position in the project “Motivators of climate change adaptation actions of individuals of groups: A psychological perspective”. The project is aimed at developing and testing theory to understand which (social)_psychological factors motivate individuals and groups to protect themselves from different climate-related hazards, such as heat waves, flooding and extreme weather events.

Environmental Psychology at the University of Groningen has a national and international reputation for excellence. Research within the Environmental Psychology group focuses on a wide range of topics, including understanding which factors affect sustainable behaviours (such as energy use, car use, food consumption, and participation in environmental groups); understanding how people and groups cope with environmental and climate risks; understanding the effectiveness of strategies to promote sustainable behaviour; understanding the acceptability environmental policies and changes; and the effects of sustainable behaviour on wellbeing. The research aims at contributing to theory development and practice, and is embedded in the research program Interpersonal Behaviour, as well as in two of the focus areas of the University of Groningen: Energy and Sustainable Society. The Environmental Psychology group collaborates with scholars from different disciplines within and outside the University of Groningen, as well as with governments, NGOs, and various business organisations, such as the Global Centre of Expertise on Climate Adaptation that is based in Groningen and Rotterdam.

The negative impacts of climate change become increasingly visible, including extreme weather events, flooding, heat waves, and draughts. Societies urgently need to take action to adapt to climate hazards. Besides technological solutions and adaptation policy implemented by relevant actors, individuals and local communities need to take action to protect themselves from climate-related hazards. For example, they could take preparatory actions, such as buy insurances, implement protection measures in their home or community, and support climate adaptation policies. It is key to understand which factors motivate or hamper individuals and groups to take protective actions, and which strategies could be effective and acceptable to promote adaptation behaviour. You will develop and test theory on key psychological factors and processes that influence climate change adaptation behaviour by individuals and groups.

You will publish the results of your studies in international scientific journals, which will be part of your PhD thesis, and you will present your studies at international conferences. You will be a member of the Environmental Psychology Group, and your research will be embedded in the Research Program Interpersonal Behaviour and in the Dutch Kurt Lewin Institute.


We are looking for a PhD student who is highly motivated to work on this topic, and is particularly interested in conducting theory-based research with a high societal relevance. You have completed a Master in Psychology with a focus on Environmental or Social Psychology, or a scientific education that is closely related to this, or you expect to receive such a master degree soon. You have a creative, critical and independent research attitude and you are open to different perspectives on this research topic. You can work independently, but can also collaborate with other members of the research group. You have good communication skills in English and Dutch, both verbally and written (or willingness to learn Dutch).

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 12 months.

The University of Groningen offers a salary of € 2,222 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 2,840 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time position. This temporary position lasts four years. You will first be appointed for a period of 12 months. After a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period.

Intended starting date: as soon as possible

You can apply for this position until 8 July / before 9 July 2018 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Applicants are requested to submit:
• a motivation letter stating your motivation to apply for the position and your key qualities relevant for this position
• an up-to-date curriculum vitae
• a list of course grades
• contact information of two academic references.

Interviews will be scheduled on 17 July 2018.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. Linda Steg
+ 31 50 3636482,

Dr. Lise Jans
+31 50 3636567,

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 218109

Digital application form