PhD position Playful Active Urban living (1,0 FTE)

Utrecht University
June 19 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

We invite applications for a PhD position to join the NWO funded research project ‘Playful Active Urban Living' which is part of the NWO/SIA/FAPESP-program ‘Data-driven research on Sports & Healthy Living'.  

You will be evaluating how physical activity behaviors of city dwellers can be promoted with the use of a personalized smartphone application (app) in combination with beacons (sensors) and game strategies.


Project description

Apps are seen as potential ways of increasing physical activity. However, physical activity apps in app stores commonly lack a scientific base. Consequently, it remains unknown what specific content messages should contain and how messages can be personalized to the individual. Moreover, it is unknown how their effects depend on the physical urban environment in which people live and on personal characteristics and attitudes.

The current project aims to get insight in how mobile personalized technology can motivate urban residents to become physically active. More specifically, we aim to gain insight into the effectiveness of elements within an exercise app (motivational feedback, goal setting, individualized messages, gaming elements (gamification)) for making people more physically active, and how the effectiveness depends on characteristics of the individual and the urban setting. This results in a flexible exercise app for inactive citizens based on theories in data mining, machine learning, exercise psychology, behavioral change and gamification. The project contributes to the development of theories on sustainable behavioral change via personalized technologies.

You will be working on all aspects of a PhD project such as: conducting a literature study, data collection and data analyses, writing scientific papers, presenting results on conferences, and writing your thesis. Next, you will be contributing to the valorization of the study findings, by for example translating the findings into policy recommendations for the participating municipalities.   

This PhD project is part of a collaboration between the faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the applied University of Amsterdam (HvA) and the federal university of São Paulo (Brazil). Project partners are the city of Utrecht and Amsterdam,, ZappYou and Amsterdam Smart City. This means you will be collaborating and communicating regularly with other researchers, policy workers and companies.

We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated PhD student who has:

  • A Master degree in a relevant discipline such as Health Promotion, Human Movement Science, (health) psychology, (health) communication, Lifestyle Informatics, health geography, or comparable.

  • Experience or interest in quantitative research methodologies

  • A pro-active attitude and excellent communication and collaborative skills

  • Excellent proficiency in Dutch and English reading, writing, and speaking.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess