Vacancy for a PhD student in Social Psychology at KU Leuven & UCLouvain



Following funding by the Global Partnership PhD program, there is an opening for a four-year PhD position at KU Leuven and UCLouvain. The successful candidate will spend 2 years at the Laboratory for Experimental Social Psychology (LESP) of KU Leuven and 2 years at the Social Psychology Lab (SocLab) of UCLouvain, Belgium. The project will be jointly supervised by Prof. Vera Hoorens (KU Leuven) and Prof. Karl-Andrew Woltin (UCLouvain). Collaboration will be continuous throughout the project, including monthly meetings with both supervisors. The starting date is October 1, 2024.



Is fluency the message? Exploring cognitive ease as source of the more-less asymmetry in comparative communication


People prefer more-than to less-than comparisons to describe differences, find them more likely to be true, and agree more with them. For example, they agree more with ‘Men seek more power than women’ than with ‘Women seek less power than men’. This project examines the causal mechanism, determinants, and boundary conditions of the more-less asymmetry, guided by a processing fluency hypothesis. It will provide new insights on fluency in verbal communication, inform the effective use of comparisons in policy communications, and help to empower people against manipulative comparative communication.



You will design and conduct experiments, analyze the results, publish the findings in international peer-reviewed journals, and present them at international conferences. You will prepare a dissertation (consisting of a collection of articles), leading to a PhD degree consisting of a collection of articles. You may supervise master’s theses on the topic of your research and will have a minimal teaching task (coaching tutorials, max. 10% of your time and at KU Leuven, only).



  • You have a Master in psychology, ideally with a focus on social and/or experimental psychology, or in another domain relevant for this project, or you expect to graduate no later than September 2024.
  • You are highly motivated to obtain a PhD in psychology and intrinsically interested in experimental social psychological research.
  • You are committed to ethical, responsible, transparent, and open science.
  • You are pro-active and well-organized. You can work independently, but you are also a team player.
  • You are proficient in English. Proficiency in French and/or Dutch is a plus.
  • You have experience with standard data analysis (using SPSS, JASP, and/or Jamovi). Knowledge of programming languages, such as PsychoPy and/or R, and of more advanced analyses, such as multilevel analyses, is a significant plus.



  • A full-time appointment for a total of four years.
  • At UCLouvain, the net amount of the PhD grant is currently 2.418 €/month. At KU Leuven it is 2.520,84 €/month. The fellowship is tax free.
  • Some insurances are included.
  • Public transportation pass (including train) is covered by UCLouvain.
  • The position leads to a joint PhD from KU Leuven and UCLouvain and includes a full waiver of tuition fees for the registration with the PhD training programs at both institutions.
  • Funding for research expenses of 3720 €/year for the years at KU Leuven and 1250€/year for the years at UCLouvain.
  • Lab space and excellent technical and statistical support
  • Paid holidays and discount on access to university restaurants, sports facilities, etc.
  • Affiliation to universities on a short train ride from Brussels, the political “capital” of Europe and cultural center of Belgium, and only a few hours from cities like Paris, London, and Amsterdam.

Research Environment:

At KU Leuven, LESP is specialized in experimental research on verbal communication and social comparison. At UCLouvain, the SocLab includes experts on cognitive fluency and statistical procedures. KU Leuven has been declared the most innovative University of Europe by Reuters for four years in a row and UCLouvain is ranked 4th of all French-speaking full universities worldwide, with research there being amongst other funded by 60 ERC grants. Currently, KU Leuven is 45th and UCLouvain 170th on the Times Higher Education ranking of universities worldwide.


Further information:

Please contact or for further information.


A full application includes a motivation letter, a detailed CV, a list of courses and grades (transcript of grades), and names and email addresses of two academic referees who may be contacted for references. Besides applying online through the KU Leuven system (via KU Leuven Vacancies | PhD Student in Social Psychology), please also send your application by email to The deadline for applications via the job platform of KU Leuven is 31 May 2024. Late applications will be considered as long as the vacancy is not filled. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in June 2024.