PhD Position in Media and Adolescent Well-Being

Catholic University of Leuven School of Mass Communication Research


KU Leuven is a leading academic institution in Europe. Owing to KU Leuven’s cutting-edge research, KU Leuven is a charter member of LERU, has been ranked as Europe’s most innovative university and it is among the Top 10 of European universities. Within KU Leuven, the School of Mass Communication Research (SMCR, see our website,) represents a pioneering institution for media effects research. SMCR’s ultimate intent is to inspire key players and stakeholders in society as well as individuals and their families with robust evidence on both adverse and beneficial effects of media and with a sound understanding of how media can be employed to achieve goals of social relevance. Issues studied in recent years include alcohol and drug abuse, sexuality and sexism, depression, body image, and sleep. Within this context, Prof. Vandenbosch (co-)supervises 8 PhD students and has developed a center of expertise on the relationships between media ideals and adolescents’ well-being. Along with content analyses, diary studies and experiments, several large-scale panel studies on this topic are currently conducted by her and her team. Vandenbosch is the supervisor of the PhD position. The University of Ljubljana is a leading University in Slovenia and amongst upper 3% of the best universities in the world. Within that, Faculty of Social Sciences is well known for its interdisciplinary study programmes, research activities and high quality teaching, as well as many curricular and extra-curricular activities. Prof. Lobe is a member of Department of Social informatics and Methodology. She has been actively involved in studying children’s and youth use of digital technologies from 2006 via various international projects. Dr. Lobe is the co-supervisor of the PhD position.


A PhD researcher is hired to collaborate on a novel project focused on understanding media effects among adolescents under supervision of Prof. Dr. Laura Vandenbosch and Prof. Dr. Bojana Lobe.  The researcher will start a PhD in Social Sciences (communication sciences). The project is funded by Vandenbosch’s recently acquired ERC starting grant.

The PhD research is situated within an unique collaboration between KU Leuven and the Facultyof Social Sciences, UL. This means that the researcher will spend periods in Belgium and in Slovenia to work with the supervisors. Moreover, the PhD researcher will be part of the ERC starting grant team of  prof. Vandenbosch. The members of this team conduct research among adolescents in Belgium, France and Slovenian. The PhD researcher of the current vacancy is responsible for the Slovenian research.This research contains 3 studies: 1) a longitudinal study in which adolescents complete a questionnaire on how they interact with media at four different timepoints over a course of 2 years in school, 2) a study during 14 consecutive days in which adolescents complete a brief questionnaire every day at home on how they interact with media on a daily basis and 3) a study on the social media profiles of adolescents.

The research aims to gain insights into the effects of media popular among adolescents (12 to 18 years). We aim to study the type of content that adolescents share about their appearance, relationships with friends, school results and romantic relationships on their social media profiles (for instance Facebook, Instagram, YouTube; see study 3). Moreover, the research aims to understand how adolescents interact with ideals that appear on social media,but also on television. This research will thus also investigate the relations between media use and how adolescents think about themselves, their peers,their body, their school results and sexuality. We want to learn about how adolescents interact with media over a period of two years (see study 1), but also on a daily basis (see study 2).


Each applicant should be highly motivated to study media effects and learn about explanatory mechanisms. He/she should be motivated to work within a team and thus has the social skills necessary to have fruitful collaborations with colleagues and to conduct research in school settings.

Applicants can have a master in communication sciences (cum laude), social informatics(cum laude), and psychology (cum laude) or in related fields (sociology ...)(cum laude).

Applicants are preferred to be fluent in English and Slovenian, and need to have excellentwriting and presentation skills.

The applicant needs to have quantitative (survey) and qualitative research skillsand data analytic experience (e.g. Spss, AMOS, R, ...). Clear strengths are experience with content analytical, diary of longitudinal research.  He/she should be motivated to further develop methodological skills.

Academic writing skills (e.g., publications in academic journals or papers to bepresented on conferences) need to be further developed over time.  


An initial 1-year contract of a (PhD) research position that can be prolonged to 3 years that can be initiated in September 2020 or a date in 2020 preferred by the candidate and approved by L. Vandenbosch  and B. Lobe.

Salary and benefits are in line with the KU Leuven university salary scales for PhD candidates and highly competitive according to international standards.

PhD candidates will be enrolled in KU Leuven’s Doctoral Programme of theSocial Sciences, in which they acquire many other important career skills.

Applications can be submitted in English and need to be submitted before 21 August 2020.


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You can apply for this job no later than August 21, 2020 via the
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  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: August 21, 2020
  • Tags: Communicatie/Media

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