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PhD Fellowship – The Political Psychology of AI

Deadline: 30.06.2024

Universitetet i Oslo

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest ranked educational and research institution, with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. With its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally recognised research communities, UiO is an important contributor to society.

The Department of Psychology is one of seven units of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and has 75 permanent and 70 temporary members of scientific staff. Degrees are offered at bachelor and master level, plus a clinical training programme, and the PhD programme has 140 students.

Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology

Job description

A PhD fellowship focusing on the Political Psychology of artificial intelligence (AI) is available at the MAKS section of the Department of Psychology, University of Oslo. The PhD fellowship is associated with the Culture, Society, & Behavior Lab, directed by Professor Jonas R. Kunst, and the newly established interdisciplinary AI Democracy research group, directed by Professors Petter Bae Brandtzaeg (Department of Media and Communication) and Jonas R. Kunst (Department of Psychology).

The appointment is a full-time, fully-funded position for a period of three years, with the possibility of extension up to a fourth year, which includes teaching duties. This extension will depend on the employee's competence and the department's needs and available resources. We expect the position to start approximately in autumn 2024.

More about the position

While some optimistic viewpoints suggest that AI may serve as a catalyst for and equalizer of political participation, alternative perspectives raise concerns about the potential adverse impacts of AI, which could pose threats to democratic engagement and its overall functionality. The doctoral candidate will engage in research projects centered around political psychology, investigating the psychological effects of AI, and in particularly generative AI such as large language models (e.g., Gemini, Grok, ChatGPT, CoPilot, MyAI) or image models (e.g., DALLE, Midjourney), has on political attitudes, trust in democratic institutions, and the extent of civic engagement.

The candidate will be supervised by Dr. Kunst (main supervisor) and Dr. Brandtzaeg (co-supervisor) as a part of an interdisciplinary team.

Our department is committed to offering our candidates the chance to cultivate advanced research skills across various disciplines, collaborating closely with eminent specialists in our respective areas. As part of our team, you will find yourself in a vibrant and interdisciplinary work setting, enriched with abundant opportunities for both scientific contribution and community engagement throughout the academic year. Additionally, the PhD fellowship presents a distinctive opportunity to become one of the pioneering scholars to specialize in the psychology of AI from the very beginning of their career, positioning you at the forefront of this emerging and critical field of study.

The role predominantly employs quantitative (experimental and longitudinal) methodologies. Candidates applying for this position are expected to submit a brief research proposal outlining their approach to investigating the psychological impact of AI on political outcomes. If its quality is deemed sufficient, this proposal may serve as the foundation for their doctoral research; however, its principal objective is to assess the applicant’s creativity and capacity to engage constructively with this nascent field.

Qualification requirements

The candidate must be qualified for admission to the PhD program at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo (Doctoral degree and PhD - University of Oslo)

  • Applicants must hold a degree equivalent to a MA/MSc level degree in psychology (120 ECTS), media science, information science, political science, or other relevant fields. Candidates who will complete their degree within the starting date will be considered. Applicants with grade points A or B on the ECTS scale will be qualified for admission. Applicants with a grade point of C may be evaluated on a individual basis.
  • Strong skills in quantitative analysis, preferably documented through their thesis or other relevant work, and a strong motivation to learn new quantitative methods.
  • Experience with recruitment and testing of research participants, with quantitative research designs that involve surveys.
  • Long-term potential for high-quality research, as evidenced by the project proposal.
  • Excellent English skills, orally and in writing.
  • Ambitions for high-quality research within the project, as evidenced by the required letter of application, explaining the motivation for applying and how own qualifications are suitable for the announced position.

Preferable qualifications

  • Experience with longitudinal and/or experimental research designs and data analysis.
  • Experience with research in the fields of political psychology, media psychology, and/or artificial intelligence.
  • Experience with programming related to artificial intelligence.

Personal skills

  • Creative thinking and analytic abilities
  • High motivation and ambitions, and strong work ethics
  • Ability to work collaboratively in groups and independently
  • Personal suitability, motivation and willingness to collaborate with academics from diverse backgrounds.
  • Enthusiasm for the topic.

We offer

  • Salary of NOK 532 200 - 575 400 per year, depending on qualification
  • A professionally stimulating work environment at the Culture, Society, and Behavior lab at the Department of Psychology and the interdisciplinary AI Democracy group.
  • Opportunities for extensive collaboration with our national and international collaborators
  • Attractive pension and social welfare benefits
  • Oslo’s family-friendly environment with its rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

How to apply

The application must include

  • Motivation letter (maximum 2 pages)
  • A brief research proposal (max 4 pages), outlining research questions/hypotheses the applicant would be interested in testing and a proposed research design. A brief review of the field including references is required.
  • CV summarizing education, employment history, and a list of publications (if applicable).
  • Copies of educational certificates.
  • Copies of publications/academic work (if any) that the applicant wishes to be considered by the evaluation committee
  • Names and contact details of at least two references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail, and telephone number). One of them must be the supervisor of the master thesis.

In assessing the applications, special emphasis will be placed on the documented, academic qualifications, and the candidate’s motivation and personal suitability, including their research proposal.

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system, please follow the link “Apply for this job”. International applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their university’s grading system. Please note that all documents should be in English (or a Scandinavian language).

Interviews with the best qualified candidates will be arranged.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Research Fellowships at the University of Oslo.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The appointment may be shortened/given a more limited scope within the framework of the applicable guidelines on account of any previous employment in academic positions.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results etc.

Inclusion and diversity are a strength. The University of Oslo has a personnel policy objective of achieving a balanced gender composition. Furthermore, we want employees with diverse professional expertise, life experience and perspectives.

The Department of Psychology shall work actively for equality, ensure equal opportunities and rights, and prevent discrimination. See the Gender equality initiative at UiO as well as the Action plan for gender equality, diversity and inclusion at the Department of Psychology 2022-2025.

If there are qualified applicants with disabilities, employment gaps or immigrant background, we will invite at least one applicant from each of these categories to an interview.

Contact information

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