Postdoc in Comparative Psychology

Research Project “Evolutionary insights into 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 great apes. Combining novel techniques within a comparative multi-disciplinary framework, this project offers an evolutionarily-grounded approach to the origins of human emotion.

The postdoc will help to setup new research facilities in different zoos and will also help to coordinate the research of the PhD students, research assistants and master students. Other key responsibilities are to make sure that the research at the different locations is organized well, help overcome practical problems that the PhD students may face, that data collection always continues at the zoos, and oversees that the communication with the zoos and their staff is well. Science communication and public involvement at the zoo forms an important part of the job, and the involvement of bachelor students in reaching out to the broader public (see also Further, the postdoc will also run own studies (eye-tracking, touchscreen studies, for instance) and keeps up to date with the literature. The postdoc is expected to publish at least four scientific papers (two per year). There are also teaching possibilities (lectures). This can be discussed.

This project is supported by funding from NWO to Dr. Mariska Kret (Leiden 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. 0.8 or 1.0 fte, fixed-term post for 2 years.

Salary: € 3746 to € 5127 gross per month on a full-time basis

Closing date: 11/11/2021

Further information can be found here.