PhD position on 'reinforcement learning in the developmental and educational sciences'

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences – Department of Psychology

Publication date
28 November 2017
Level of education
Master's degree
Salary indication
€2,222 to €2,840 gross per month
Closing date
15 December 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The Department of Psychology of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) is internationally renowned for its high quality research, with #11 in the QS psychology worldranking, the highest of continental Europe. We are looking for an enthusiastic researcher who would like to build her/his career in the field of experimental psychology.

Project description

In typical reinforcement learning study participants have to learn, by means of reinforcement, which one of two abstract stimuli yields the most favourable feedback. In this project you will investigate reinforcement learning in contexts which are more relevant for developmental and educational research. That is, you investigate:

  1. reinforcement learning of rules (e.g. grammar);
  2. learning by reinforcement alone vs. learning by means of reinforcement and instruction;
  3. the role of confidence in reinforcement learning.

You will perform a set of controlled experimental studies in children, adolescents and adults. If you have experience in neuroimaging research, there might be a possibility to collaborate in an fMRI study as well.

Additional information:

  • The project is embedded in a larger decision making project (VICI grant awarded by the Dutch Science Foundation). In the upcoming years the project comprises, apart from the current vacancy, a methods postdoc, an fMRI postdoc, a methods PhD, and a clinical PhD. The project is led by prof. Hilde Huizenga. Cooperation within the team is encouraged;
  • the project is embedded in the psychology research institute;
  • the project consists of 0.8 fte research and 0.2 fte teaching. Teaching activities include supervision of bachelor and (research) master theses, which might yield publishable data;
  • we also have to offer a competitive pay and excellent benefits; a very friendly, interactive and international working environment and an office located in the city centre of one of Europe's most beautiful and lively cities.


The candidate should:

  • have completed a research master (or expected graduation within 3 months) in psychology or a related discipline;
  • be interested in experimental research;
  • have excellent writing skills;
  • be very well able to work in a team;
  • have acquired sufficient Dutch oral proficiency by June 2018.

The following will count in favour of the candidate: experience with reinforcement learning, decision making or categorization research; experience with running studies in developmental populations; programming skills in R and/or Presentation.

Further information


The full-time appointment will be for a period of 12 months plus a further 36 months contingent on a satisfactory performance during the first year. The gross monthly salary will range from €2.222 in the first year to €2,840 in the final year, based on a full-time position of 38 hours per week. The annual salary will be increased by 8 % holiday allowance and a 8,3 % end-of-year bonus, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Job application

Applicants should submit a letter of interest that addresses qualifications, a current resume and a list of grades. You may send your application (with job number 17-597) to #LI-DNP

The first round of interviews will be held on Tuesday 19 December 2017.

No agencies please

Published by  University of Amsterdam