PhD Position for the Project: «Relationship Formation with Artificial Partners»

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Offer Description

The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate for the project: UnderstandingRelationship Formation with Artificial Partners: Examination of Tools, Users and Outcomes.

Due to rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, we have been witnessing remarkable developments in the field of human-machine communication. From social robots to virtual agents, AI-driven technologies are increasingly being used for human interactions. Among these, a new category of digital tools are artificial partner applications. Distinct from other AI tools that are used for assistance or as intermediaries between humans, artificial partner applications represent a novel genre of AI powered tools that function as communication partners that aim to simulate companionship and form emotional connections with users.

This project, supervised by Dr. Hande Sungur (PI), Prof. Dr. Jochen Peter, and Dr. Jeroen Lemmens, will examine relationship formation with artificial partners by: (1) developing a comprehensive typology of artificial partner applications, (2) identifying demographic, social, and technological predictors of artificial partner use, (3) examining associations between predictors and outcomes of use, and (4) examining causal underlying processes that influence relationship formation. Through these four goals, the present research aims to enhance our understanding, specifically of artificial partners, and more broadly human-machine communication, while contributing to the discourse on AI’s evolving role in human society and communication.

What are you going to do?
As a PhD candidate in this project, you will conduct four studies connected to the four research goals of the project. The project comprises multiple research methods, namely; a feature (content) analyses aimed at providing a typology of available partner applications, survey research aimed at understanding user types, association between use, potential predictors, and outcomes, and finally (longitudinal) experimental research for examining underlying causal processes in relationship formation with artificial partners. Together, successfully completing these projects will lead to a PhD dissertation.

You will

  • Review and synthesize relevant academic literature;
  • Design the studies (e.g., setting up a survey or designing stimulus materials);
  • Conduct the studies and collect data;
  • Analyze and write up findings for publications in high-impact scientific journals and present them at (inter)national conferences;
  • Contribute to teaching activities at Bachelor’s level .


Specific Requirements

You have

  • A (Research) master’s degree in Communication science, Psychology or a related social-science field, or will obtain this degree before the start of the project;
  • A strong interest in topics associated with digitization and/or emerging communication technology;
  • A demonstrated interest in quantitative methods. Experience with data donation and/or longitudinal analyses is a plus;
  • Excellent command of spoken and written English;
  • Knowledge of and ideally also experience with Open Science principles;
  • A strong commitment to methodological rigor and scientific integrity;
  • An interest in pursuing an academic career.

You are

  • Able to work both in a team and independently, and you have a pro-active attitude;
  • Organized, flexible, and demonstrate attention to detail;
  • Curious, creative, and interested in learning from different disciplines;
  • Adept in quantitative data analysis with a demonstrated ability to learn new techniques;
  • Resilient in the face of challenges that come with new methodological approaches;
  • Able to balance the demands of several tasks (e.g., combining research and teaching) successfully.

Additional Information


The estimated starting date for this project is 1 March 2024. The position is open to international candidates. The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours for a maximum term of 4 years. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will also be tasked with teaching (Bachelor’s) students for approximately 10% of teaching of the contract. For this position the PhD Candidate (Promovendus) profile applies. Your salary will be €2770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3539 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

What else do we offer

  • a position in which initiative and input are highly valued
  • a position which focuses on the PhD candidate and creating opportunities for their scholarly and professional development
  • an enthusiastic and warm department that is open to new colleagues
  • a large, welcoming community of PhD candidates working in various projects within Communication Science
  • an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam
Selection process

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 30 November 2023. You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications in one bundled .pdf should include:

  • a curriculum vitae;
  • a letter of motivation that outlines your preparation and interest in pursuing this PhD project (max 2 pages). Please be as specific as possible in describing how you meet the selection criteria. If you do not meet all of the criteria yet, please explain how you will acquire the required skills;
  • transcript of your grades in the Bachelor and Master;
  • an academic writing sample in English (e.g., Master’s thesis, Bachelor’s thesis).
Additional comments

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

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