The Independent Research Group “Personality, Identity, and Crime” at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany is seeking to recruit a Ph.D. Student (f/m/d) in Psychology to conduct research on personality, self-knowledge, and moral behavior. We are looking for a Ph.D. student in psychology with an interest in personality and individual differences, self-knowledge, and (im)moral behavior. You will work with a young, international, and highly dedicated team of researchers striving to conduct innovative, theory-driven, and transparent research using a diverse spectrum of methodology, including lab and web experiments and intensive data collection in daily life.

The Challenge

The position is embedded in the project “KNOW-THYSELF: Increasing Self-Knowledge to Promote Moral Behavior” headed by Dr. Isabel Thielmann and supported by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant). The project pursues a person-centered approach that builds on increasing self-knowledge about moral character to promote moral behavior across multiple contexts and to facilitate long-term changes in the personality traits underlying moral action. Currently, the dominant approach to promoting moral behavior is situational in nature, for example, rewarding moral actions and sanctioning immoral actions. Critically, not only can such situation-based interventions fail or even backfire; they also consider only one side of the coin – the situation – while neglecting the other: the individual. In the KNOW-THYSELF project, we overcome this limitation by putting the individual into focus. The Ph.D. student will thus primarily work on developing and testing a personality change intervention that seeks to help individuals increase in morality-related traits. To this end, multiple methods will be combined, including web experiments and intensive data collection in daily life.

Your profile

  • you have completed (or are close to completing) your university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in psychology or a related field
  • you have a strong interest in research on personality, self-knowledge, and moral behavior
  • you have experience in conducting surveys and experiments and in data analysis using R
  • you are eager to further develop your statistical and methodological skills
  • you are a team player: you value team work and enjoy enhancing the work of others
  • you have excellent social and communication skills
  • you have excellent written and spoken English language skills
  • you are committed to open science and transparent research practices
  • Speaking German is an asset but not a requirement

About us

The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law (MPI-CSL) is a growing European center for research in public security matters, criminal law, criminology, and fundamental legal research. The Institute is part of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science – one of the world’s most distinguished research organizations. The high level of its fundamental research is reflected not least by the 31 Nobel Prizes awarded to Max Planck scientists since the Society was founded in 1948.

The Independent Research Group “Personality, Identity, and Crime” headed by Dr. Isabel Thielmann works towards increasing the understanding of the interplay between self-perception, other-perception, identity, and behavior in the context of moral vs. immoral behavior. The group is embedded within the Department of Criminology (Director: Prof. Dr. Dr. Jean-Louis van Gelder), which offers a highly interdisciplinary and dynamic research environment in which psychologists, sociologists, economists, mathematicians, criminologists, and computer scientists work together to understand the causes and consequences of criminal and related behavior.

The Institute, with its approximately 150 employees, is located in Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany), a dynamic university city with a 900-year history. The city in the trinational border region (Germany, Switzerland, and France) impresses newcomers with its high quality of life and international flair. Freiburg ranks third on Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2022” list of the top ten city destinations in the world.

Our Offer

Our Institute offers unrivaled research conditions, including access to top-notch laboratory facilities as well as access to exceptional specialist libraries and databases, excellent workspaces, and comprehensive administrative and academic support. Collaboration with other researchers and international partners at the Institute is a key element of our work. Additionally, there are many opportunities for researchers to design, convene, or participate in workshops, seminars, and conferences.

The position is available from November 1, 2024 (or earlier) and limited to three years. It is a fully funded research position with no teaching obligations. The position is full-time (currently 39 hours/week). Remuneration and social benefits are based on the German Civil Service Collective Agreement (TVöD Bund), pay category 13, 65%. The salary includes all mandatory social insurance contributions for health care, long-term care, unemployment, and retirement. The workplace is Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany). We are committed to ensuring a positive work-life balance and offer flexible work options as well as generous opportunities for personal and professional development.

The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer and supports diversity in the workplace. Applications from disabled persons are welcome. We also aim to increase the percentage of female staff in fields in which they are underrepresented and therefore expressly encourage women to apply. Applications are particularly welcome from persons with backgrounds that have so far been underrepresented in science and research with regard to gender, age, professional and cultural background, family situation, sexual orientation, and nationality.

Your application and further information

To apply, please submit your application with the following documents:

  • a cover letter (max. 2 pages), including your research interests and how your interests and profile match the project and selection criteria
  • your CV, including a list of publications (if applicable)
  • study certificates and transcripts of records
  • name and email address of two scholars who can serve as a reference

Please submit your application via our online application portal.

The deadline for applications is 13 May, 2024.

Applicants will be informed in the week of 20 May, 2024 whether they are invited for an interview. Interviews with shortlisted candidates are currently planned for the first half of June.

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