PhD Position in Mobile Dating Effects
Catholic University of Leuven

KU Leuven 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’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 8 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. Vandenbosch is the supervisor of the PhD position. This research position is situated within KU Leuven. The research project is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Sumter of the U of Amsterdam. Sumter is part of the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) where she studies the interplay between digital media and socio-emotional development across the lifespan using a variety of methodologies.


A PhD researcher is hired to collaborate on a novel project focused onunderstanding mobile dating under supervision of Prof. Dr. Laura Vandenbosch and Prof. Dr. Sindy Sumter.  The researcher will start a PhDin Social Sciences (communication sciences) at KU Leuven. The project is fundedby Vandenbosch’s recently acquired FWO grant. The PhD research is situatedwithin an unique collaboration between KU Leuven and the U of Amsterdam. Thiscollaboration implies that the researcher will conduct his/her PhD trajectoryat KU Leuven, but will also go on research visits working at the UvA with Dr.Sindy Sumter.

Populargeo-social dating apps have provided young adults with an unique media space tosatisfy developmental needs. The current project postulates that the effects ofmobile dating are more complex than what has been previously assumed and aimsto introduce several novel perspectives to understand the multilayered role of mobiledating in contemporary well-being threats for young adulthood. Particularattention to relevant differential susceptibility factors (i.e., gender, sexualorientation, narcissism, attachment style and mate value), and the differentialdynamics of reciprocal relationships across different time intervals will begiven. As a result, the project aims to provide a well-detailed structure onhow to understand the role of mobile dating in well-being threats that arepressing in today’s society (e.g., gender stereotypes, sexism, bodydissatisfaction, loneliness, commitment problems, self-esteem depletion, andnegative affect). A multi-method approach will be used in which a large scalecontent-analytical study will document for the first time the occurrence andmanifestations of different types of strategic self-presentations in mobiledating profiles. The interval-contingent experience sampling method of measurementburst research will further provide an unique account of the fluctuations inthe links between mobile dating and well-being.


Each applicantshould be highly motivated to study media effects and learn about explanatorymechanisms. He/she should be motivated to work within a team and thus has thesocial skills necessary to have fruitful collaborations with colleagues and toconduct research in different settings.

Applicantscan have a master in communication sciences (cum laude), social informatics(cum laude), and psychology (cum laude) or in related fields (sociology ...)(cum laude).

Applicantsare preferred to be fluent in English, and need to have excellent writing and presentationskills. Knowledge of the Dutch language is an advantage.

Theapplicant needs to have quantitative (survey) and qualitative research skillsand data analytic experience (e.g. SPSS, AMOS, R, Python...). Clearstrengths are experience with content analytical, diary or longitudinalresearch.  He/she should be motivated tofurther develop their methodological skills and learn about measurement burstresearch.

Academicwriting skills (e.g., publications in academic journals or papers to bepresented on conferences) need to be further developed over time.  


An initial 1-year contract of a (PhD) research position that can beprolonged to 3 years that can be initiated on 1 September 2020 or a date in2020 preferred by the candidate and approved by L. Vandenbosch  and S. Sumter.

Salary and benefits are in line with the university salary scales forPhD candidates and highly competitive according to international standards.

PhD candidates will be enrolled in KU Leuven’s Doctoral Programme of theSocial Sciences, in which they acquire many other important career skills.

Applications can be submitted in English.


Interested candidates are asked to submit the following documents beforeJuly 2020 when applying for the position:

  • CV

  • A motivation letter explainingyour personal background and interest in an academic career

Please email, call, or Skype  thesupervisor of co-supervisor if you want to receive more information about theposition.

Laura Vandenbosch

The email address:;

The telephone number:  +32 16 3232 02.

A (Skype) appointment can be made by email.

Sindy Sumter

The email address:;

An appointment can be made by email.

You can apply for this job no later than June 30, 2020 via the
KU 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
    • Employment percentage: Voltijds
    • Location: Leuven
    • Apply before: June 30, 2020
    • Tags: Communicatie/Media

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Computeroxy


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