Postdoc in Cognitive Psychology at Leiden University

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Psychology, the Cognitive Psychology Unit has available a Postdoc Position in Cognitive Psychology 

Project description

Research Project “Evolutionary insights into the production and perception of expressions of emotions”.
During social interactions, humans express and regulate their emotional states as well as process the emotions expressed by others. Importantly, most of these processes occur automatically, without conscious awareness. Although most emotional expressions in the human face are produced spontaneously, the existing literature has largely focused on posed or ‘artificial’ expressions’, which impacts the ecological-validity of the findings. Through a range of experimental studies involving different physiological measures the postdoc will gain insight into these issues. Focussing on explicit emotional signals (e.g. smiles) and implicit cues (e.g. pupil dilation, blush), we aim to identify emotion expressions produced and perceived by humans and systematically compare these to those of our closest living relatives, the bonobos. Bonobos are an ideal model species to reconstruct our last common ancestor and to identify uniquely human features. In addition, we will determine the extent to which culture influences human emotion perception. Combining novel techniques within a comparative multi-disciplinary framework, this project offers an evolutionarily-grounded approach to the origins of human emotion.

This project is supported by an NWO ORA grant to Dr Mariska Kret (Leiden University) and Dr Zanna Clay (Durham University). The project will run in parallel with ongoing projects in the CoPAN lab, directed by Dr Mariska Kret ( ; see also our Copan Leiden Facebook page). The research group participates in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC), an interfaculty center for interdisciplinary research on brain and cognition ( For the current position, Dr Kret is looking for a postdoc to be based in the Netherlands, who will focus on the human component predominantly (not necessarily exclusively). In parallel to this project, another project supervised by Zanna Clay will take place mainly in the UK, the Democratic Republic of Congo (studies with local people and bonobo’s) and Rwanda (local population). For further cross-cultural comparisons, the project is in collaboration with Akihiro Tanaka (Tokyo woman’s christian university) and Anthony Atkinson (Durham University). The two postdocs closely interact on various occasions and locations.

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