KU Leuven

Doctoraatspositie over pornografie en jeugd

2024-07-02 (Europe/Brussels)
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KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

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KU Leuven is a leading academic institution in Europe. Owing to its cutting-edge research, KU Leuven is a charter member of LERU, has been ranked as Europe’s most innovative university and is among the Top 10 of European universities. Within KU Leuven, the School for 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 6 PhD students and has developed a center of expertise on the relationships between digital media uses and adolescents’ well-being. Dr. Chelly Maes conducts research on digital media uses and sexuality with a focus on applying a positive well-being perspective. Prof Dr. Steven Eggermont is dean of KU Leuven’s Faculty of Social Sciences and interested in the relationship between media use patterns and developmental processes in the life span and in the media's effects on emotional, mental, and physical health in young people. Vandenbosch, Maes and Eggermont are the supervisors of the PhD position. https://soc.kuleuven.be/smc/staff
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A PhD researcher is hired to collaborate on an innovative research project led by Prof. Dr. Laura Vandenbosch, Dr. Chelly Maes and Prof. Dr. Steven Eggermont. This researcher will work towards a PhD in Social Sciences (communication sciences). The project has received funding through the recently awarded FWO Fundamental Research Fund Grant to the supervisory team. The project, which is situated in the scholarly debate on sexual media effects, delves into the digital landscape of today’s youth where sexually explicit images and videos are widely available. A body of research has documented youth’s use of this material and its detrimental effects, primarily in response to concerns raised by parents, educators and practitioners. This research has shown modest but consistent negative effects on the sexual socialization of youth (e.g., on reinforcement of gender stereotypes, acceleration of sexual behaviors), and largely overlooked the potential positive aspects of pornography use in the sexual development of young individuals. This gap is noteworthy, given the encouragement from sexology and media scholars, as well as stakeholders, to explore the positive ways in which adolescents can navigate their sexuality in various (also mediated) ways. The overarching goal of this PhD project is to rectify the existing negativity bias in the literature by introducing a 'benefit-focused' perspective. We would like to know which positive effects might follow from using pornography. A comprehensive multi-method approach will be employed, encompassing qualitative research, content analysis, and diary studies. The primary focus will be on adolescents, as their positive sexual development is of paramount importance for their future well-being and sexual identity.


Applicants must have enjoyed conducting research in the past (e.g., in the shape of writing their master thesis or other related research experiences) Applicants must further possess a strong motivation to investigate sexual media effects in youth  . They should also demonstrate a keen enthusiasm for teamwork (e.g., working with other PhD students) and possess the interpersonal skills to contact youth populations. .

Applicants (will) hold a master’s degree in field such as communication sciences, psychology or related disciplines, with a track record of outstanding academic performance (e.g., recently graduated cum laude). Proficiency in English is essential, proficiency in Dutch is a plus. Strong writing and presentation abilities are required. Applicants should have a solid foundation in quantitative (e.g. survey) and qualitative methods, with experience in data analytic tools such as SPSS, AMOS, R, .... A strong commitment to further developing methodological as well as academic writing and publishing skills is expected.


The initial contract offers a one-year research position, extendable to a total duration of four years. The commencement date can be either on September 1, 2024, or an alternative date in 2024 that aligns with the candidate's preference and is agreed upon with the supervisory team. The compensation and benefits are in line with the university's salary scales for PhD candidates and are highly competitive in accordance with international standards. We provide a nurturing, collegial, and supportive research environment. At our institution, we prioritize creating a welcoming atmosphere where collaboration and mutual support thrive. We understand that the well-being and professional growth of our PhD researchers are paramount to their success. Applicants will join a team with a strong international focus, fostering a global perspective in their research endeavors.


Interested candidates are asked to submit the following documents before the 1st of July 2024 when applying for the position: CV // A motivation letter explaining your personal background and interest in an academic career //A sample of your academic writing (e.g., your master thesis, a paper, …) . Interviews with selected candidates will be held on Wednesday the 3rd of July and Monday the 8th of July 2024.  For more information please contact Prof. dr. Laura Vandenbosch, tel.: +32 16 32 32 02, mail: laura.vandenbosch@kuleuven.be or Mrs. Chelly Maes, tel.: +32 16 19 41 33, mail: chelly.maes@kuleuven.be.

KU Leuven strives for an inclusive, respectful and socially safe environment. We embrace diversity among individuals and groups as an asset. Open dialogue and differences in perspective are essential for an ambitious research and educational environment. In our commitment to equal opportunity, we recognize the consequences of historical inequalities. We do not accept any form of discrimination based on, but not limited to, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ethnic or national background, skin colour, religious and philosophical diversity, neurodivergence, employment disability, health, or socioeconomic status. For questions about accessibility or support offered, we are happy to assist you at this email address.

Job details

Doctoraatspositie over pornografie en jeugd
Oude Markt 13 Leuven, Belgium
Application deadline
2024-07-02 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2024-07-02 23:59 (CET)
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About the employer

KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

Visit the employer page