The experience of stress is an inherent aspect of daily-life. However, can we validly measure this, and how and under what circumstances does it contribute to disease? We are looking for researchers that work on our exciting Stress in Action project.

Job description
Stress is the ‘buzzword’ of modern life and impacts all aspects of daily life. When stress occurs frequently, remains high for sustained periods of time, and/or overwhelms people’s resources, it can cause mental and cardiometabolic disease. The NWO gravitation project Stress in Action capitalizes on the fast advances in technology and big data analytics to move stress research from the lab to daily life. A theoretical framework of daily-life stress will be developed using the novel insights from ambulatory assessments in large, long-running Dutch cohorts and from experimental validation studies. This generates novel, mechanistic understanding of 1) how responses to daily-life stress arise from the temporal, dynamic interplay between context and person-specific factors, 2) how daily-life stress can be reliably measured in a specific individual in real-time, and 3) how and when potential beneficial stress-response mechanisms turn into detrimental effects on mental and cardiometabolic health. This will enable the development of novel monitoring and intervention strategies to track and reduce daily-life stress and its health impact.

WO – 36 hours a week
We invite applications for one full-time postdoc position (1.0 fte for 4 years) to work on the following tasks:

Main focus – Task 1 Development of the theory of daily-life stress
Building on the existing literature we will create a new extendable framework that conceptualizes stress as resulting from continuous interactions between key environmental exposures and four subsystems: emotions, cognitive appraisal and regulation strategies, physiological responses, and behavioural reactions. These interactions occur across multiple (short- versus long-term) time scales. Theory development will be mainly based on 1) available existing stress theories, 2) detailed systematic literature reviews, and 3) analyses on existing cohort data. The empirically informed theory will identify specific interactions between subsystems and sensitized interaction patterns between stress-related subsystems over time. By examining time-, person- and context- interactions new avenues will be discovered for the development of data-driven, personalized, and process-informed strategies for stress reduction.

Task 2 Developing a taxonomy of contextual factors contributing to daily-life stress responses
Our goal is to establish which contextual and person-specific factors play key roles in daily-life stress, and which aspects of the daily-life stress responses should be prioritized for prolonged monitoring and the evaluation of (stress) interventions. We develop a taxonomy including traditional stress- evoking and -reducing factors in all life domains and novel contextual factors related to societal challenges including the digitalization and globalization of the life world. We will further provide an overview of psychometrically valid measures of these daily-life contextual factors that are amenable to ambulatory assessment. Selection of candidate measures will be based on a combination of literature review, analysis of existing cohort data, and findings from experimentation with new self-reported and passive sensing-based non-invasive measures such as the Electronically Activated Recorder. These will be integrated in a final taxonomy of daily-life stress-evoking and -reducing factors in multiple life domains as well as in modern societal challenges.

The tasks are:

  • Conduct research in line with the objectives and requirements of the project
  • Organize and execute systematic literature reviews and/or data collection and analysis for the different studies
  • Publish the results of the research in international scientific journals
  • Present the research findings to fellow scientists in the larger project, and collaborate with them
  • Provide a limited number of educational activities at the UG-Psychology and/or UMCG Health Sciences departments
  • Working environment
  • The positions are situated in two faculties of the University of Groningen: The Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Medical
  • Sciences/University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has had top priority for four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is a center of knowledge focusing on individuals and society. We study issues relating to human behaviour, and the relationships between people and society as a whole. This includes the study of how people function under normal circumstances, but also of the problems encountered by individuals or groups, and how to resolve or prevent these. Our Faculty employs about 650 employees. For more information about the Faculty please check the link here.

The Faculty of Medical Sciences is the second oldest medical faculty in The Netherlands. The position is based within the UMCG Department of Health Sciences. We are an interdisciplinary and international group in Community and Occupational Health. Our research and teaching activities aim towards the prevention of disease and the increase of health capacity in people and society. To maximize societal impact, our research typically seeks involvement of key stakeholders in the field of Community and Occupational Health, together with practitioners within Academic Collaborative Centers and policy makers. For more information, please check the link here

The positions will be embedded in the Departments of Developmental and/or Organizational Psychology and the Department of Health Sciences, Community and Occupational Health. The research team consists of Prof. Peter de Jonge, Prof. Ute Bültmann, prof. Susanne Scheibe, Dr. Bertus Jeronimus, and associated colleagues.

You are expected to

  • Have a PhD degree in Psychology, Health Sciences, Public Health, Sociology (or a related discipline)
  • Have a good academic track record commensurate with the level of experience
  • Be enthusiastic about writing international publications (and a dissertation
  • Have good academic English writing skills
  • Have good social and communication skills and are willing to work with other team members
  • Have good organizational skills and the motivation to organize and realize systematic literature reviews and data collections
  • Have demonstrable competences of conceptual capacity, presenting, planning, organizing, and monitoring
  • The UMCG has a preventive Hepatitis B policy. The UMCG can provide you with the vaccination, should it be required for your position.
  • In case of specific professions a ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’ is required.

What do we offer

For the Postdoc position at the faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences (RuG) we offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • A salary of € 3.413,- to a maximum of € 4.670,- gross per month for a fulltime position, depending on qualifications and work experience
  • A holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
  • Attractive secondary terms of employment
  • The position is classified in accordance with the University Job Classification (UFO) system; the UFO profile is PhD candidate; for the postdoc position the UFO profile is
  • A temporary position of 1.0 FTE for a period of 4 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: March 1 2023 or upon agreement.