11 September 2019

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For more information please contact Prof. dr. Laura Vandenbosch, tel.: +32 16 32 32 02, mail: can apply for this job no later than October 11, 2019 via the online application toolKU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

Apply before 11 October 2019

Three researchers are hired to initiate a novel inter-cultural project focused on understanding media effects among adolescents under supervision of Prof. Dr. Laura Vandenbosch. Each researcher will start a PhD in Social Sciences (communicationsciences).

The research positions are situated within KU Leuven which is a leading academic institution in Europe. Owing to KU Leuven’s cutting-edge research, KU Leuven is a charter member of LERU, has been ranked as Europe’s most innovative university and it is among the Top 10 of European universities.

Within KU Leuven, the School of Mass Communication Research (SMCR, see our website,) represents a pioneering institution for media effects research. SMCR strives to contribute to the most advanced methodological techniques and theoretical insights in communication studies, cognitive and social psychology, sociology, and public health. SMCR adheres to the highest academic standards and publishes its research in top academic journals in various disciplines. SMCR’s ultimate intent is to inspire key players and stakeholders in society as well as individuals and their families with robust evidence on both adverse and beneficial effects of media and with a sound understanding of how media can be employed to achieve goals of social relevance. Issues studied in recent years include alcohol and drug abuse, sexuality and sexism, depression, body image, and sleep.

Within this context, Prof. Vandenbosch (co-)supervises 6 PhD students and has developed a center of expertise on the relationships between media ideals and adolescents’ well-being. Along with content analyses, diary studies and experiments, several large-scale panel studies on this topic are currently conducted by her and her team. The team’s work has been recognized with up to 11 awards. Part of the research is embedded within the international network the team has built throughout the years and involves collaborations with, for instance, the U of Michigan, the U of Toronto the U of Vienna, as well as the U of Amsterdam.


Three researchers are hired to initiate a novel inter-cultural project focused on understanding media effects among adolescents under supervision of Prof. Dr. Laura Vandenbosch. Each researcher will start a PhD in Social Sciences (communication sciences). The project is funded by Vandenbosch’s recently acquired ERC starting grant. According to the ERC, ERC starting grants are attributed to talented early-career scientists who have already produced excellent supervised work, and show potential to be research leaders.

The ERCproject starts from the observation that popular media among adolescents abound with idealised representations of how one should look, talk, behave, and perform in order to acquire more from life. Moreover, media not only describe a variety of ideals, but also portray these ideals as models that are within reach for anyone who works hard or follows a certain ‘recipe’. Such representations are labelled as ‘malleable mediated ideals’ and parallel asocietal emphasis on individual choice as the prominent route towards self-realisation in all types of roles. The extent to which malleable ideals inmedia feed this emphasis on individual choice as a way to achieveself-realisation is central in the project. This question is pressing intoday’s society as the pressures that adolescents experience are viewed as animportant factor in the relatively high prevalence of both internalising and externalising problems in adolescence. Content analytical, diary, and longitudinal studies in three different cultural contexts will be triangulated to develop a theoretical model: the Malleable Ideals Media Effects model (MIME).The project is called MIMIc and captures how the Malleability In Media Ideals leads adolescents to mimiC and act upon the malleable ideals in their own lives while suffering from the pressure and responsibility attributions accompanying these ideals.


  • Each applicant should be highly motivated to study media effects and learn about explanatory mechanisms. He/she should be motivated to work within a team and thus has the social skills necessary to have fruitful collaborations with colleagues and to conduct research in school settings.
  • Applicants can have a master in communication sciences (cum laude), psychology (cum laude) or in related fields (sexuology,...) (cum laude).
  • Applicants are preferred to be fluent in English, and need to have excellent writing and presentation skills.
  • Because an intercultural survey study is planned to be executed in three European countries, applicants with a multi-European background and/or fluency indifferent European languages (e.g., Dutch, French, Spanish, Slovenian, …) are highly recommended to apply for the current position.
  • The applicant needs to have quantitative (survey) and qualitative research skills and data analytic experience (e.g. Spss, AMOS, R, ...). Clear strengths are experience with content analytical, diary of longitudinal research; He/she should be motivated to further develop methodological skills.
  • Academic writing skills (e.g., publications in academic journals or papers to be presented on conferences) need to be further developed over time.


  • An initial 1-year contract of a (PhD) research position that can be prolonged to 3 years that can be initiated on 1 January 2020 or a date in 2020 preferred by the candidate and approved by L. Vandenbosch.
  • Salary and benefits are in line with the university salary scales for PhD candidates and highly competitive according to international standards.
  • PhD candidates will be enrolled in KU Leuven’s Doctoral Programme of the Social Sciences, in which they acquire many other important career skills.
  • Applications can be submitted in English (preferred) or Dutch.