PhD position at the University of Graz (Austria)

June 20, 2021

The Social Psychology group at the University of Graz (Austria) is considering applications for a funded 4-year PhD position. The PhD student will contribute to a program of research on cognitive and neural mechanisms of observational learning.

Project: The mechanisms of observational learning

One of the most effective ways to develop personal qualities is to observe those who already possess them and follow their example. In the 1960s, Albert Bandura has conceptualized observational learning in what has become one of the most influential psychological theories. To explain this phenomenon, Bandura invoked basic cognitive processes such as attention, memory and motivation. The present research project posits that a more specific mechanism makes role models so powerful: people’s propensity to simulate what others perceive, think, and feel and to make this experience their own.

The current research project will study whether people simulate the mental processes of the model they observe and whether this simulation mechanism predicts observational learning. We will assess simulation by measuring the extent to which observers mimic the model’s facial expressions and brain activity. To do so, we will rely on state-of-the-art methods, namely brain-brain coupling and a new approach to mimicry based on facial expression decoding.

Researchers involved

This research will be led by Dr. Gayannée Kedia, an expert in social neurosciences, in collaboration with Professors Katja Corcoran, Guilherme Wood, Marc Scholten, and Wolfgang Schachter, experts respectively in social influence, fMRI methods, delay discounting, and mimicry.

Duration of contract: 4 years. The position is expected to begin September 1, 2021.

Extent of Employment: 30.0 hours/week. The salary is determined by the standard personal expenses offered by the Austrian Science Foundation.

Profile of qualification:

  • Master’s degree/Diploma in psychology, neuroscience, or related fields with excellent grades
  • High proficiency in English (both oral and written)
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong analytical skills, with experience in statistical software packages (e.g. SPSS, R)
  • Highly motivated and creative with a strong interest in the project topic
  • Organized and independent

Desirable qualifications:

  • Computer Programming experience
  • Experience with neuroscience techniques, particularly fMRI
  • Experience with psychophysiological measurements
  • Experience with open science practices
  • High proficiency in German language


  • Successful candidates must sign a doctoral thesis agreement within 6-12 months
  •   Participation in scientific research
  • Participation in peer-reviewed publications / public presentations
  • Participation in administrative tasks to support project management​
  •    Involvement in the organization of meetings, conferences, symposiums


The successful candidate will be a member of the thriving Social Psychology research group within the Institute of Psychology at the University of Graz. This group meets regularly to present and discuss projects as well as important developments in the field. The Psychology Institute benefits from an excellent research environment, with a large community of PhD students and research-active faculty, regular lab meetings, seminars, visiting speakers, and access to extensive facilities for behavioral and neuroscientific studies, including a research-dedicated 3T MRI scanner.

Graz is Austria’s second largest city, a beautiful university city offering lots of activities: nightlife and culture, award-winning restaurants and student bars, a lively city center and many green areas, proximity to nature and ski resorts. Graz surprisingly combines tradition and student joie de vivre. The city offers everything you’d expect from a big city, but it’s small enough that it’s easy to get around and enjoy its relaxed atmosphere.


Your application should be sent to and include:

  • A letter of motivation
  • An academic curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Your transcript of records (for both the bachelor and master’s degrees)

Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position has been filled. Please feel free to write me with any questions (


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