The PhD programme Psychology is based on the insight that human cognition and action are always motivated and driven by personal interests, emotions, and individual and social goals. What we think and do reflects and expresses what we want and feel.

Brief outline

The view that human beings are adaptive agents that construct their own intellectual and physical environments is not only highly relevant to basic research in psychology, but also to a wide variety of applied issues. In daily life, cognition cannot be separated from individual attitudes and ambitions. Motivation, emotion and cognition are inextricably linked and have a combined effect on action control.

Additional research

Research is the principal part of the PhD programme. Students conduct original research leading to a dissertation under the guidance of a supervisor. Almost all PhD candidates are engaged in additional research projects, either individually or with other PhD students or members of the staff of the institute, and they routinely attend scientific conferences where they present their work.

The institute is a member of the following research schools:

  • experimental psychology - EPOS
  • psychometrics and sociometrics - IOPS
  • developmental psychology - ISED 
  • social psychology - Kurt Lewin 
  • experimental psychopathology - EPP
  • psychology and health - PandH

Admission requirements

A prospective PhD candidate in this field should have:

  1. considerable methodological knowledge and skills;
  2. some experience in designing and conducting empirical studies;
  3. up-to-date knowledge of psychology;
  4. good writing skills;
  5. a strong interest in doing original research at the highest level.


All full professors at the institute have the ius promovendi (the right to act as a PhD supervisor). Their research specialisations can be summarised as follows:

Eveline Crone
  • psychological and neural processes
  • cognitive control and self-regulation
Erik van Dijk
  • bargaining
  • social dilemmas
  • self-interest
  • fairness
Willem van der Does
  • psychopathology
  • depression
  • cognition
  • psychotherapy
  • psychopharmacology
Naomi Ellemers
  • social identity
  • stereotyping
  • discrimination and intergroup relations
  • commitment and motivation at work
  • group decision making and group performance
  • career development of women and minorities
Bernhard Hommel
  • attention
  • intention
  • perception and action
  • integration
  • cognitive control and self-regulation
  • cognitive and affective neuroscience
Huub Middelkoop
  • clinical neuropsychology
  • neurodegeneration
  • (Alzheimer-type) dementia
  • neurogenetics
  • cognitive and affective neuroscience
Ab Mooijaart

Sander Nieuwenhuis
  • methods and techniques 
  • decision making
  • attention
  • cognitive control
  • neuroscience
Wilma Resing
  • learning potential
  • dynamic testing
  • intellectual development
  • inductive reasoning
  • psychodiagnostics
Carolien Rieffe 

Philip Spinhoven
  • emotion regulation skills
  • experimental psychopathology
  • cognitive-behaviour therapy
  • anxiety disorders
  • affective disorders
  • somatoform disorders
Michiel Westenberg
  • developmental psychology
  • adolescence
  • psychosocial maturity
  • social anxiety
  • sentence completion test
The institute’s associate and assistant professors may co-supervise a PhD project.