PhD position on Person-environment dynamics in neighborhood food environments (1.0 fte)

Hours per week: 
36 to 40
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Sociale, Gezondheids- en Organisatiepsychologie
Application deadline: 

Job description

Nutrition and health across the life span: healthy food choices in healthy environments (Regio Deal Foodvalley)
Regio Deal Foodvalley is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between Utrecht University and Wageningen University & Research, national and local governments, and entrepreneurs, aiming to boost transitions towards a healthy and sustainable food system.

One track of the programme focuses on nutrition and health across the life span, from an early age to old age. The track consists of six work packages, including the work package “Healthy food choices in healthy environments”. In this work package, Utrecht University, Wageningen University, Ziekenhuis Gelderse Vallei, Gemeente Utrecht, Gemeente Ede, BeBright and other partners participate. The aim is to create a leading region where food environments are (co)created that invite healthy and sustainable food choices. The region will function as a living lab for pilots and experimentation to advance generic knowledge of food environments for healthy and sustainable diets of adults.

The work package focuses on neighbourhoods, work-environments, and out-of-home settings, where food consumption takes place (e.g. cafes and restaurants). For the design and implementation of strategies aimed at promoting healthy and sustainable food behaviour in all layers of society, insights and knowledge from various disciplinary fields, including social and health psychology, will be used. This provides a unique opportunity for a learning-by-doing approach to person-food environment interactions.

The work package “Healthy food choices in healthy environments” offers a total of 5 PhD positions, 2 of which are at the Social, Health, and Organizational Psychology Department at Utrecht University, and 3 of which at the Consumption and Healthy Lifestyles group at Wageningen University. Within the programme, we are looking for PhD candidates with a knack for generating practice-based evidence and implementation research, where combining theory and robust study design closely align with field work entailing setting up studies, collecting data, collaborating with different parties, and managing a project network. The PhD students are expected to collaborate closely. The positions at Wageningen University are advertised separately.

PhD position person-environment dynamics in neighborhood food environments
The living environment steers food choices, e.g. via the availability, design, and type of food-outlets available or food marketing in public spaces. People respond to their environment, often in an automatic way. Psychological processes such as a sense of mastery, motivation, and self-regulation all play a role. The dynamics between people and their food environment on a neighbourhood level will be the focus point of this project. In the project, we will combine insights and knowledge from the fields of social psychology and health behavior, focusing on behaviour change, and the role of the food environment specifically to design studies, develop and pilot interventions, and implement strategies aimed at promoting healthy and sustainable food behaviour in urban and regional neighbourhoods.


We are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:

  • completed research or an academic Master’s degree in Psychology (preferably Social or Health Psychology) or a related scientific discipline (e.g. Interdisciplinary Social Sciences);
  • knowledge and experience in the area of behavioural decision making, intervention development or health promotion is an advantage;
  • excellent organizational, communication and social skills, illustrating a hands-on mindset;
  • strong affinity with multi-, trans-, and interdisciplinary as well as field research;
  • strong affinity with collaborative research, and being a team player;
  • fluent in Dutch (both spoken and written);
  • strong English academic writing skills.


We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for one year that, upon satisfactory completion, will result in an extension for an additional three years. The gross salary ranges between €2,395 and €3,061 (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model) to support a good work-life balance of our employees. More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

About the organisation

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in cultural anthropology, educational sciences, interdisciplinary social science, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. More than 5,600 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has about 850 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues. 

Additional information

For more information about this project, please contact Dr Marleen Gillebaart, via


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. In order to apply, please upload a motivation letter, your curriculum vitae and names of 2 references. In addition, you are requested to submit a 250-word abstract of a study you would like to conduct in the project.

Interviews (through video-call) will be held on 27 August and the preferred starting date is 1 October 2020.

The application deadline is 16 August 2020.