PhD Human dimensions of net-zero energy systems (1.0 FTE)


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 36,000 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 3.000 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 “Human dimensions of net-zero energy systems”. The project aims to investigate public perceptions and acceptability of energy systems with the net-zero emissions target.

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 to contribute to theory development and practice, and is embedded in the research programme 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.

Net-zero energy systems are critical for reducing global temperature increase to 1.5oC. Transitioning to net-zero systems is not only a technological, but also a social challenge. Different net-zero configurations imply different system and lifestyle changes, and strongly depend on people supporting and adopting these changes. In this project, we will explore factors and processes that motivate people to adopt low-carbon behaviours and support low-carbon technologies, system changes, and policies that would result in net-zero energy systems. Possible changes include phasing out fossil fuels, such as natural gas, and the implementation of negative emission technologies, such as carbon capture and storage. The project entails a series of correlational and experimental studies, including a large-scale cross-cultural study into public perceptions and acceptability of net-zero energy systems.

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 Programme Interpersonal Behaviour and in the Dutch Kurt Lewin Institute. You will collaborate with researchers from other disciplines from world’s leading institutes in climate research (e.g., the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) and with partnering representatives of NGO’s, businesses, and governments.

The project is funded jointly by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the EU Horizon 2020 Programme, and the Stevin prize awarded to prof. Linda Steg for her pioneering, innovative and socially impactful research.


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 which 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: 48 months.

We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,395 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 3,061 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time position
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• excellent secondary terms of employment
• a temporary position of 1.0 FTE for a period of 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: 1st of August, 2021.

Job Application

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.

You can apply for this position until 16 June 11:59 pm / before 17 June 2021 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university's website).

Interviews will be scheduled in the end of June 2021.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr Goda Perlaviciute

Prof. dr Linda Steg

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 221317

Digital application form