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PHD Candidate

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    SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
    Psychological sciences
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    30/04/2020 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Poland › Wrocław


Name and description of the research project:

Mental imagery, emotions, and decisions under risk and uncertainty: Visualizing the future as an aid to decision making.

This project introduces and empirically tests a novel theoretical approach for understanding and predicting people’s behavior in common every day situations under risk and uncertainty. It posits that the interplay between mental images, affective responses, and evaluations of threats and benefits provides critical inputs to decisions in uncertain circumstances. Our theoretical idea differs from both the classical decision theories and the neuroeconomic models at least in a twofold way. Firstly, prior models assume sequential relations between phases of the decision process, and not circular associations as postulated in our theory. Secondly, the present model points at mental imagery as an important psychological mechanism reinforcing the process of decision making. The theoretical approach we propose is represented in the form of a descriptive model of decision making–IMRisk (Imagery Model of Risk). We argue that it has the capacity to explain decision behaviors associated with both risk and uncertainty. The model assumes that when people face a choice dilemma, they generate mental images visualizing possible consequences of their behaviors. These images create a basis for both affective responses and evaluations of threats/benefits initiating the approach/withdrawal motivational tendency. We assume that the core elements of the model–mental images, affect, and evaluations of threats/benefits–are interrelated in the form of dynamic, iterative associations and produce the approach/withdrawal tendency. These elements influence each other until the motivation to either approach a risky option or to withdraw is strong enough. At that point the decision process is terminated and a choice is made. The theoretical concept of IMRisk is based on theories concerning mental simulations and mental time travel. The ability to produce mental simulations allows humans mentally project themselves forwards to pre-live events and might be considered as the ultimate evolutionary advantage. Our model draws from mental imagery theories proposing that imagery is a basic component of the “prospective mind” enabling for the simulation of future activities. It refers to theories postulating that mental imagery has the power to evoke both cognitive and affective reactions, thanks to which decision makers simulate potential consequences of choosing alternative options. IMRisk is based on empirical evidence showing that mental imagery has a strong impact on emotional processes and that this impact can be observed on subjective, physiological and neurological levels. Finally, the project builds on our own previous research, in which we preliminarily documented the mediating role of affect in the causal link between imaging consequences of a risky behavior and risk perception.

More Information


We offer:

• fellowship contract for 36 months;

• salary in the amount of PLN 3,500 gross/monthly;

• work in a professional and friendly environment among outstanding scientists and influential experts.


Eligibility criteria

Formal criteria:

Scientific achievements- 50% of the final grade;

Awards in the field of research - 20% of the final grade;

Competences to carry out tasks in the research project- 30 % of the final grade.


Selection process

Competition committee:

Prof. Tomasz Zaleśkiewicz – Chair of the Committee

Agata Gąsiorowska, PhD Hab – Member of the Committee

Jakub Traczyk, PhD, DSc - Member of the Committee

Paulina Kolańczyk-Zwierz – Committee Secretary

After reviewing applications, the highest-ranked candidates can be invited for an interview.

Application deadline: 30.04.2020

Competition results announced: 29.05.2020

Date of project commencement: 01. 10.2020

Competition type: Opus

Additional comments

Offer Requirements



• Cooperation with the entire research team at all stages of the project;

• Regular participation in research team meetings;

• Regular own work in the unit (Faculty of Psychology in Wrocław);

• Participation in the preparation and implementation of the studies planned in the project description;

• Developing own research ideas within the scope of the project;

• Independent research, data analysis, preparation of reports;

• Participation in preparing publications and conference presentations;

• Systematic presentation of progress of own work during meetings of the research team.



• Master's degree in psychology or student in the fifth year of Master's degree (in the field of psychology);

• Fluency in English;

• Minimum one year of research experience;

• Research interests in the field of cognitive psychology, assessment and decision making, emotions, motivation;

• Very good knowledge of psychology research methodology and data analysis methods

(e.g. regression analysis; mediation/moderation analysis);

• Willingness to work on weekends.


Specific Requirements

Interested candidates should submit the following documents:

Scientific CV in English containing:

  • description of scientific achievements,
  • list of publications - also those in preparation,
  • list of completed tests,
  • confirmation of active and passive use in scientific conferences,
  • the list of awards and achievements includes mainly scientific work,
  • a description of the functions to perform the tasks in the "requirements" section;

Scan of a document confirming receipt of the Master's degree or fifth-year student status;

Scan a document confirming knowledge of English at an advanced level;

Welcome: references from scientific work, from each candidate collaborates or collaborates.

Work location(s)
2 position(s) available at
SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Aleksandra Ostrowskiego 30b

EURAXESS offer ID: 497509


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