Fully Funded PhD Position ‘Environmental Sensitivity’ – KU LEUVEN Belgium

Applications are invited for a Fully Funded PhD (Scholarship) Position at KU Leuven Belgium under supervision of Prof. Patricia Bijttebier (Supervisor), Prof. Karla Van Leeuwen (KU Leuven, Parenting and Special Education unit) and Prof. Michael Pluess (Queen Mary University of London).

The research unit School Psychology and Development in Context at KU Leuven, Belgium, studies developmental processes and their determinants from early childhood to late adulthood, mainly through longitudinal research. The focus is on typical as well as atypical development taking into account processes at different levels of analysis, ranging from genes to broad social environments.

Individuals differ in whether and/or the degree to which they are affected by the environment they live in. For a long time, research has focused on negative environments and associations with maladjustment in ‘vulnerable’ individuals. More recently, attention has been drawn to the fact that individuals also differ in their reactions to positive environments and that it might be better to focus research on the broader notion of ‘environmental sensitivity’ rather than the more narrow ‘vulnerability to stress’. The current project has threemain goals: (a) examine developmental origins of environmental sensitivity focusing on genetic and environmental factors as well their interplay, (b) investigate the phenotypic manifestation of environmental sensitivity using established measures of personality domains and facets and (c) investigate the existence of different sensitivity groups (e.g. high, low and medium sensitive individuals) and sensitivity patterns (e.g. primarily to positive environments, primarily to negative environments, equally to both types of environments).


  • Master’s degree (obtained before October 2018), preferably in Psychology or Educational Sciences
  • Interested in the topic of environmental sensitivity
  • Excellent skills in statistical analyses and a willingness to improve skills in longitudinal analyses
  • Organizational, communicative and leadership skills for conducting and coordinating data collection
  • Team player who collaborates with other researchers in the research unit
  • Excellent English writing skills


  • A full-time PhD Scholarship position, initially for 2 year and extended with a further 24 months contingent on satisfactory performance during the first two years, in order to complete a Ph.D. within 4 years
  • A stimulating research environment at the School Psychology and Development in Context research unit in an internationally renowned university
  • Opportunity to collaborate with other PhD students and to learn from the expertise in an international collaboration (with the research unit of prof. Pluess) and broader international netwerk (FWO Research Community)
  • Research stays at internationally renowned research labs in the domain of developmental psycho(patho)logy in general and environmental sensitivity in particular
  • Students who graduate in September can also apply

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Patricia Bijttebier, tel.: +32 16 32 59 89, mail: patricia.bijttebier@kuleuven.be.

Job interviews will be scheduled in the week of August 13.
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of age, gender, nationality or impairments, cultural background. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.


Publish Date:
Institute Name: School Psychology and Development in Context at KU Leuven
Degree/Course: PhD
Deadline: August 12, 2018
Country: Belgium
Course Start:
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