PhD candidate in the cognitive psychology of logic and reasoning

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences – Department of Psychology

9 juli 2018
Master's degree
€2,266 to €2,897 gross per month
21 augustus 2018
38 hours per week

The Department of Psychology in collaboration with the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) is looking for an excellent PhD candidate in the area of the cognitive psychology of logic and reasoning. The position is within the project “Unraveling the Causal Mind: How causation shapes human cognition” led by Dr Leendert van Maanen, Dr Katrin Schulz, and Prof. Robert van Rooij.

The Department of Psychology is part of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG), which is the largest educational and research institution in the social sciences in the Netherlands. We offer a dynamic environment in an internationally recognized department, ranking among the best in Europe for research and teaching. This is paired with an informal and supportive atmosphere, in a beautifully-situated building with modern facilities. The Psychology Department is located centrally in Amsterdam, and hosts program groups focusing on Methodological, Social, Organizational, Developmental, Clinical, and Cognitive Psychology. It offers excellent facilities for undertaking research in a broad range of areas, including EEG, ERP, TMS, and fMRI, cognitive behavioural testing suites, and eye-tracking.

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) is a renowned research institute at the University of Amsterdam, in which researchers from the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science collaborate. The research carried out at Humanities forms one of the six research schools within this faculty. ILLC’s central research area is the study of fundamental principles of encoding, transmission and comprehension of information. Research at ILLC is interdisciplinary, and aims at bringing together insights from various disciplines concerned with information and information processing, such as Logic, Philosophy, Linguistics, Musicology, Mathematics, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science.

Project description

Causal reasoning is crucial for humans. Tversky & Kahneman (1980) and others have suggested that forward inferences from cause to effect are more natural than inferences from effects to causes. We will experimentally investigate under which conditions forward reasoning is preferred. Standard causal models of cognition (Causal Network Theory (CNT); Dual Process Theory) either don’t predict differences or are too unspecific to make testable predictions. We will develop and validate a cognitive model that is precise enough to make testable predictions, involving both CNT and Logic Programming, as well as the ACT-R cognitive architecture (Anderson, 2007).

The PhD candidate is expected to:

  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • present intermediate research results at international workshops and conferences;
  • deliver a number of publications, also in collaborations with the PIs.

The PhD candidate is also expected to help with teaching, in particular in the Beta Gamma Bachelor programme:

  • assist in teaching the course “Causality”;
  • supervise research projects for bachelor students in various stages of education.


The candidate will have:

  • completed an MA or MSc in Psycholinguistics, Cognitive Science, Logic, or Artificial Intelligence;
  • demonstrable competence in experimental methods, statistics and data analysis;
  • exam records, thesis, and writing sample providing evidence of a promising graduate student ready to undertake excellent research;
  • a strong willingness to teach in the Beta Gamma Bachelor programme;
  • a strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • excellent command of English.

Demonstrable affinity with causality, logic, reasoning, and/or cognitive modeling is a strong plus.

Further information

For further information you may contact:


The selected PhD candidate will be appointed full-time (38 hours per week) for a maximum period of four years at the Department of Psychology of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. The research will be carried out under the joint aegis of Psychology and ILLC. The appointment is initially for a period of 12 months; contingent on satisfactory performance it will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, and should lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. It should also lead to at least three papers published and/or forthcoming in excellent peer-reviewed publications. The gross monthly salary (on a full-time basis) will range from €2,266 during the first year to €2,897 during the fourth year, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Amsterdam is an international city, consistently ranked as one of the world’s best places to live.

Job application

The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity.

Applications should include the following information in one single PDF file, named using your surname and “phd” as file name, e.g.: Smith-phd.pdf:

  • a 1-page cover letter motivating why you are applying and how you can contribute to the project;

  • CV, including (a) transcripts of all exam grades at MA/MSc level; (b) names and email addresses of at least two referees to be contacted informally for references;
  • a 1-page summary of the MA or MSc thesis;
  • one writing sample.

Please submit your application using the link below no later than 21 August 2018. Only complete applications submitted will be considered.

Candidates will be interviewed between 27 and 31 August. Skype interviews are possible.

The preferred starting date is 1 October 2018. Short delays can be negotiated in case of need. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Gepubliceerd door  Universiteit van Amsterdam