Research Assistant in Psychology, Health, and Technology
University of Twente Department of Psychology, Health, and Technology

Job description

The Department of Psychology, Health, and Technology (PHT) at the University of Twente is currently seeking a

Research assistant (0.6-0.8 FTE depending on availability and expertise)

for the research project entitled How future perspectives evolve during the COVID-19 crisis:

A longitudinal study.


This project is about how people use future perspectives to cope with adversity during the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 crisis provides the opportunity to test theoretical ideas on how future-thinking shapes and motivates present behaviour in times of crisis and uncertainty and build resilience. From previous research, it is known that long-term future perspectives offer purpose and a sense of hope, while short-term future perspectives help set goals and make plans. Therefore, long-term and short-terms future perspectives both function to guide behaviour and decision-making in the present but in different ways. Research on how short-term and long-term future perspectives relate to each other is currently lacking. Moreover, previous psychological research assumes that future perspectives and related time horizons are relatively stable. In a global crisis that COVID-19 represents, the assumed stability and certainty of future perspectives no longer holds. The ability to anticipate an uncertain and shifting future forms a critical yet under-researched dimension in research on resilience. From a social-ecological perspective, resilience can be defined as the individual and collective capacity to navigate resources to well-being in adversity. In COVID-19 times, adversity is sustained over a long time and affects us collectively. Our project will yield knowledge that is important for building resilience for the current crisis as well as other crises to come.

This project will build on and extend an on-going international, interdisciplinary study entitled Will the world never be the same? Post-corona letters initiated and lead by the UT with an international consortium from King’s College London, Leibniz University Hannover, the University of Crete, the University of Humanistic Studies, Radboud University, the University of Tartu Estonia, the University of Eastern Finland, VIVE Danisch Centre for Social Science Research Denmark, the University of West England Bristol. This is a mixed-method study on the future perspectives and current experiences of corona's impact on everyday life. We have currently collected responses from 200 participants from multiple countries, of which 100 have volunteered to participate in a follow-up study. With the BMS grant, we will be able to carry out such a follow-up study as we currently have no funds but started the project to seize the momentum. Out of the 100 volunteers, we aim to recruit 60 active participants for the follow-up study, thereby seeking balance in gender and age. To allow for meaningful comparison and increase the study's feasibility to be completed within the set timeframe, we will focus on participants from four EU-regions: Netherlands, Estonia, Finland, and Greece (depending on progress in data collection in the other countries we can easily extend this to other countries). These countries represent geographically and culturally diverse regions in the EU (West, East, North and Southern Europe). These regions are affected differently by COVID-19 but also have different crisis histories (e.g., the socioeconomic crisis in Greece). Insight in how anticipatory practices differ depending on crisis histories is important for the design and implementation of crisis response. Moreover, pragmatic reasons for choosing these regions are that we collected sufficient data, and further data collection is bolstered with active and trusted consortium partners.

Using TIMM and AmberScript software from the BMS-lab, the selected participants will be followed for four months, with 6-8 measurement moments in which written and audio responses are collected. The proposed longitudinal study objective is to gain insight into how short-term and long-term future perspectives (hopes, dreams, aspirations, ideals, goals, plans) dynamically relate to everyday experiences as the crisis develops. Furthermore, such a longitudinal appraisal will clarify the pandemics' impacts on everyday life and society. For example, sustained experience with social distancing measures may affirm the desire for a future with physical connection and intimacy. On the other hand, experience with the death of loved ones may induce fear of future (re)-connection. The added value of our interdisciplinary approach lies in the combination of research on immediate, actionable, individual futures (the psychology of prospection) with research on more distant and uncertain societal futures (futures studies). Furthermore, by drawing on moral philosophy and narrative psychology, our focus is on how values take shape and eventually change with respect to the future and everyday experiences as the crisis unfolds internationally and new safety measures are introduced or discussed in the public sphere. For instance, how will trade-offs between the value of health versus privacy or the value of the protection of the vulnerable versus socialization and quality of life evolve through this period for each individual? While in the short-term people may be willing to override or discount specific values, they may be more reluctant to do so after a few months. However, it could also be possible that habituation and normalization will occur in which previously unthinkable practices will become socially acceptable, and moral values will actually change. Our proposal contributes to the resilience research program of the BMS faculty by rethinking the moral and future-oriented dimensions of resilience in the context of sustained crisis.


You will be responsible for conducting the study (data collection, analysis, presentation of intermediate results and writing up) independently yet under supervision of the project leaders Dr. Anneke Sools (Department of Psychology, Health and Technology) and Dr. Yashar Saghai (Department of Philosophy). You are experienced in applying methodologies necessary to working with the kind of qualitative longitudinal data and descriptive statistics in the project. You will carry out the research in close cooperation with the international partners and with another research assistant.

Your profile

  • You hold a MSc degree in psychology, sociology, anthropology or a similar social science discipline;
  • You have experience in qualitative and quantitative research, ideally some experience in utilizing data collection software TIIM (The Incredible Intervention Machine) and/or Qualtrics;
  • You have experience with qualitative analysis software Atlas.ti, SPSS and/or R;
  • You have good research skills;
  • You are fluent in Dutch and English, and preferably also in at least one other language;
  • You have excellent communication, presentation and collaboration skills;
  • You are eager to learn more about interdisciplinary teamwork.

For more information please contact dr. Anneke Sools, 

Submit your application (including curriculum vitae and two names of potential references) online (via the ‘Apply now’ before June, 19th 2020 to the attention of dr. Anneke Sools. Job interviews will be held as soon as possible.

Our offer

  • You will be appointed for 24-32 hours pro week (depending on availability and expertise) for 6 months with end date 31 December 2020. The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Universities (CAO);
  • Starting salary € 2.656,- / 2.790,- gross per month based on your experience;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment.

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences

The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) strives to play a pivotal role in understanding, co-engineering and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. Through 'social engineering' these technological advances are embedded in society befitting human needs and behaviour, within proper public and private management and business structures. For this the faculty of BMS upholds high quality disciplinary knowledge in psychology, business administration, public administration, communication science, philosophy, educational science and health sciences. All with a focus on the challenges in society. Research is strongly connected to our institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

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