University of Twente

PhD position: Environmental storytelling in hybrid environments – designing, developing and implementing a climate distress intervention

2024-04-29 (Europe/Amsterdam)
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Job description

Climate change causes especially young people globally to experience emotional distress, which has numerous consequences at the individual and societal levels. There is a pressing need to design effective interventions tailored for this population, recognizing the complexity of climate distress (combination of adverse climate change emotions such as anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration). Since young adults live in an interlinked ecosystem of the digital and physical world, this calls for the development of a holistic and multi-sided intervention.

The challenge
In this project, the aim is to develop a hybrid storytelling intervention that alleviates young adults’ climate distress. The intervention would do this by helping young adults build their narrative identity, a narrative sense of oneself created with storytelling, which also includes climate agency, a sense of being able and willing to navigate the climate crisis. Identification with characters and transportation into alternative worlds as well as the use of self-reflective writing, inspired by different triggers such as a VR experience, open up possibilities for developing narrative identity and climate agency.

The research question is “How can a hybrid storytelling intervention alleviate climate distress in young adults?”.

This PhD project has the following main aims:

1. To understand young adults’ ideas and needs for alleviating their climate distress. Subsequently, these ideas are put to use in testing various trigger materials and environments that are meant to enhance the participants’ narrative identity through reflective writing.
2. To collect participant experiences from various activities. The participants engage in individual audio journalling and social audio reflection through the Wisper app, created by the GEMH lab. In addition, the participants experience various future environmental scenarios in a VR environment (e.g. a hopeful one where actions solve a specific problem, a dystopian one where human action fails, etc.).
3. To develop a hybrid storytelling group intervention where the participants encounter environmental storytelling triggers and discuss their experiences in a facilitated group.
4. To quantitatively test the effectiveness of the intervention and to qualitatively understand and describe its potential.

This project also aims to produce guidelines for people interested in facilitating storytelling groups for climate-distressed young adults. In this project, you will collect and analyze both quantitative (statistical data collected with e.g. surveys) and qualitative (the reflective writing exercises) data and integrate them into mixed-method publications.

The key tasks of the PhD candidate include:

  • Setting up experiments

  • Doing statistical analysis

  • Doing qualitative/narrative analysis

  • Working together with the BMS Lab

Your profile

  • MSc degree in psychology or a related discipline (also candidates close to graduating are encouraged to apply)
  • Strong interests in and affinities for 1) climate psychology, 2) mixed methods research, including experience in at least statistical or qualitative data analysis, and 3) digital environments such as Virtual Reality
  • Demonstrably good (scientific) writing skills
  • English conversation, writing, and presentation skills. Command of the Dutch language or willingness to learn Dutch is considered an advantage
  • Communication and social skills related to working in interdisciplinary environments
  • A good team spirit, liking to work in an interdisciplinary and international environment

Our offer

  • A full-time 4-year PhD position with a qualifier in the first year
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2.770,- in the first year to € 3.539,- in the fourth year
  • Excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8,3%, a solid pension scheme, and health care benefits
  • 29 holidays per year in case of full-time employment
  • Excellent mentorship in a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities
  • A personal development program within the Twente Graduate School. You will have a training program as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision
  • A green campus with free access to sports facilities and an international scientific community
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid)

Information and application

Are you interested to be part of our team? Please submit your application via the ‘Apply now’ button below before April 30, 2024 and include:

  • A cover letter (maximum 2 pages A4), emphasizing your specific interest, qualifications, and motivations to apply for this position, including 2 references;
  • A cv, including a list of all courses attended and grades obtained, and, if applicable, a list of publications and references;

For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Prof. Gerben Westerhof (

About the department

At the Department of Technology, Human and Institutional Behaviour (HIB), we are specialists in the science of behaviour change and the interplay between human behaviour and technology.
Why do we behave the way we do, and how does our behaviour change? Why is it that some people can successfully adapt their diet or lifestyle, and others seem unable to? What drives behavioural changes among people and groups? How can our governments help us to behave in ways that are healthy, sustainable, and inclusive, or that will make our countries, societies and cities a safer place to live? What role can technologies play – from virtual reality or artificial intelligence to human-media interaction and value-based design – in influencing our behaviour for the better? And, conversely, what does our behaviour tell us about how these new technologies should be developed? These are some of the key questions we deal with as researchers, educators and societal problem solvers at the HIB department.

About the organisation

The Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social sciences (BMS) aims to play a key role in understanding, jointly developing and evaluating innovations in society. Technological developments are the engine of innovation. As a technical university that puts people first, we tailor them to human needs and behavior and use social engineering to integrate them into society. We also ensure adequate governance at public and private level, and robust, inclusive and fair organizational structures. We do this by developing, sharing and applying high-quality knowledge in Psychology, Business Administration, Public Administration, Communication Sciences, Philosophy, Educational Sciences and Health Sciences. Our research and education in these disciplines revolves around tackling and solving societal challenges. The research programs of BMS are closely linked to the research of the UT institutes Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology, TechMed Center and Digital Society Institute.

As an employer, the Faculty of BMS offers work that matters. We equip you to create new possibilities for yourself and for our society. With us, you will become part of a leading technical university with increasing, positive social impact. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial atmosphere, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example through our flexible, adaptable benefits.

Dettagli del lavoro

PhD position: Environmental storytelling in hybrid environments – designing, developing and implementing a climate distress intervention
Datore di lavoro
Drienerlolaan 5 Enschede, Paesi Bassi
Scadenza candidatura
2024-04-29 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam)
2024-04-29 23:59 (CET)
Tipo di lavoro
Salva lavoro

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Informazioni sul datore di lavoro

Looking for a job that matters? Join the university of technology that puts people first – and shape new opportunities both for yourself and for ou...

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