Doctoral Position in Psychology
Lund University Department of Psychology

Doctoral student in Psychology

Lund University, The Department of Psychology

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top 100 universities. The University has 40 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

The Faculty of Social Sciences at Lund University is one of the leading education and research institutions in Sweden and operates both in Lund and Helsingborg.

The Department of Psychology combines education with research and has in recent years been very successful in the competition for external research funds. Central research areas include occupational and organizational psychology, clinical psychology, cognition, neuropsychology, personality and social psychology and developmental psychology.

Many of our courses are developed in connection with research projects, and students are given the opportunity to gain access to current research findings from teachers who themselves are active researchers in their respective areas. Our education environment has long been highly internationalized.

Research project in psychology

The Department of Psychology is announcing a doctoral position for a funded project entitled: Developing Person-Centered Computational Language Assessments for Diagnosing Depression and Anxiety.

How a person expresses their state of mind with language represents rich information about themself. Language is “the most common and reliable way for people to translate their internal thoughts and emotions into a form that others can understand” (Tausczik & Pennebaker, 2010, p. 25). This project develops and adapts a method to improve precision of diagnosing Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The method uses artificial intelligence (AI) based on natural language processing and machine learning to analyze open-ended text responses. The open-ended method is referred to as computational language assessments (or semantic measures), whereby respondents answer questions with free text responses that are analyzed with state-of-the-art AI. The computational language assessments were originally developed by Kjell et al. (2019) and are highly novel and innovative. Several studies show competitive and even greater validity and reliability of the language assessments as compared to rating scales (e.g., Kjell et al., 2019). These findings have the potential to improve and transform psychological assessments because rating scales are the dominating tool to assess self-reported variables in psychology, whereas AI methods on language are still underdeveloped and therefore rarely used. This project seeks to further develop and adapt these computational language assessments with a more person-centred approach to improve the diagnostic predictions.

The doctoral student position is partly financed by a grant from eSSENCE@Lund, with an e-science focus, and partly by the Department of Psychology at Lund University.


The PhD student and supervisors of this project will be in a stimulating and highly relevant academic research environment with links to the industry. The project will be part of larger collaborations with ongoing projects at LU with international collaborations at the Computer Science Departments at Stony Brook University (NY; associate professor Andrew Schwartz) and at University of Copenhagen (associate professor Isabelle Augenstein). Within LU, collaborations include projects financed by VINNOVA and the Kamprad Family Foundation that focus on diagnosing psychiatric disorders with AI. In addition, the project involves collaborations with WordDiagnostics (co-founded by Oscar Kjell), a company that provides an AI-based decision-support tool developed to increase accuracy at the early stages of care.

The doctoral student project

This project focuses on further developing and optimizing the computational language assessments from a patient-centered perspective, which include:

Aim I: Adapt computational methods so that they are optimized for different persons.

Aim II: Examine which open-ended questions that are most important for i) achieving accurate diagnostic predictions ii) enhance the patient-therapist relationship, and iii) make respondents feel heard and comfortable to open up.

Aim III: Adapt the computational language assessment methods to decrease response burden and improve response quality to increase prediction accuracy.

In her/his part of the project, the doctoral student will work independently with great personal responsibility.

Work tasks

When an appointment to a doctoral studentship is made, the ability of the student to benefit from PhD-studies shall primarily be taken into account. In addition to devoting themselves to their studies, those appointed to doctoral studentships may be required to work with educational tasks, research and administration, in accordance with specific regulations in the ordinance. Information regarding doctoral studies in psychology are available at the following site:


Students with basic eligibility for third-cycle studies are those who- have completed a second-cycle degree- have completed courses of at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits are from second-cycle courses, or- have acquired largely equivalent knowledge in some other way, in Sweden or abroad.

A person meets the specific admission requirements for third-cycle studies in psychology if he or she has passed at least 30 second-cycle credits in the main field of psychology, including a second-cycle degree project worth 15 credits, or equivalent knowledge acquired in Sweden or abroad.

Applicants are assessed on:

  • The quality of previous publications, such as master's theses, published reports and other relevant research credentials.
  • The quality and feasibility of the research plan.
  • Previous studies and relevant work experience can also be taken into account.
  • Previous experience of clinical and/or research-related work on issues regarding the diagnostic procedure of mental health issues (and in particular of depression, anxiety and/or stress).
  • Demonstrated experience in statistics, computer science, and/or working in R.

The employment of doctoral students is regulated in the Swedish Code of Statues 1998: 80. Only those who are or have been admitted to PhD-studies may be appointed to doctoral studentships.

Application procedure

The application is made electronically and must contain:

  • Personal letter in Swedish or English (max. 2 pages) which contains a short presentation of the applicant, significant qualifications and a short description of why the applicant is interested in the project and the doctoral program at the Department of Psychology, Lund University.
  • Curriculum vitae showing eligibility for the doctoral program
  • Diploma
  • Essay work and MSc dissertation.
  • Research plan (max. 3 pages excluding references) that presents initial ideas about what would be interesting to investigate in terms of predicting diagnoses of depression, anxiety and/or stress from language analyzed with AI.
  • Name and contact details of two references

Type of employment

Limit of tenure, monthly paid for four years according to HF 5 kap 7§.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset. We kindly decline all sales and marketing contacts.

To apply, please click the button "Login and apply"

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
First day of employment By appointment
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2021/179
Oscar Kjell, PI,
Hannah Stén, HR coordinator,
Union representative
OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-222 93 62
SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet, 046-222 93 64
SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-222 93 66
Published 26.Jan.2021
Last application date 07.Mar.2021 11:59 PM CET

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


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