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FYI. Funded PhD project on identity and body image in adolescents and young adults


PhD project on identity and body image in adolescents and young adults

(ref. BAP-2021-399)Laatst aangepast : 25/05/2021

The present internally-funded (C1) PhD-project is embedded in an interdisciplinary collaboration between Prof. Dr. Koen Luyckx (School Psychology and Development in Context, KU Leuven), Prof Dr. Laurence Claes (Clinical Psychology, KU Leuven), Prof. Dr. Philip Moons (Department of Public Health and Primary Care, KU Leuven), and Prof. Dr. Steven Eggermont (Leuven School for Mass Communication Research, KU Leuven). The PhD-student will work at the center of School Psychology and Development in Context, Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, under the daily supervision of Koen Luyckx and Laurence Claes. KU Leuven is one of the most renowned research universities in Europe. At our research center, we perform cutting-edge longitudinal research focusing on the biopsychosocial functioning of adolescents and young adults from different (community and clinical) populations. The Phd-student will work in a stimulating environment in which collaboration and exchange of ideas and expertise is key. Website unit


The present project focuses on how identity and body image co-develop over time and how they are related to functioning and pathological symptoms, such as eating disorder symptoms. Although the link between one’s body experiences and identity development has been highlighted repeatedly, little integrative work has been conducted. To remedy these shortcomings, this project upholds a differentiated perspective on identity (process, status, and narrative identity) and the body (body image and embodiment) using longitudinal and mixed-methods designs. Different populations will be targeted across the normative and clinical range. WP1 assesses community adolescents and emerging adults, focuses on sociocultural and psychological mechanisms linking identity and the body, and how these variables play into functioning and maladaptive behavior. WP2 focuses on chronic illness (type 1 diabetes) affecting how youth see themselves and inhabit their body. We examine how these constructs are related to illness adaptation and generic functioning in the long term, testifying to the clinical relevance of the identity-body link. WP3 assesses individuals with eating disorders, given that in this population identity and the body are strongly compromised. We focus on short-term dynamics to fine-tune the identity-body interplay. The PhD-student will mainly work on one of these work packages, in close collaboration with other PhD-students of K. Luyckx and L. Claes. S. Eggermont will be mainly involved in WP1, whereas P. Moons mainly in WP2.


At the starting date (October 1, 2021), you have a master degree in psychology or educational sciences, social sciences or related disciplines and you graduated with excellent study results.

You can work independently, accurately, and systematically. At the same time, you are a team-player with excellent interpersonal and communication skills in English (a C1 proficiency level is needed). Speaking and understanding Dutch (again at the C1 proficiency level) is an important asset.

You are open to collaborate on other research going on in the research group.

You are enthusiastic and highly motivated and you are highly interested in data-analysis. Experience with qualitative analysis is an asset.

You value the principles of open science and clear science communication.

You have excellent planning skills which are needed for this interdisciplinary collaboration.

Strong academic writing skills are a prerequisite.

You have good problem-solving skills and have a collegial, respectful, and collaborative attitude.Guiding and educating students is important to you.


We offer a full-time PhD position of 1 year, renewable for an additional 3 years (based on a successful intermediate evaluation at KU Leuven after the first year). In total, the PhD-position is for a period of 4 years.

Being part of the doctoral school at our faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences at KU Leuven, you will be given the opportunity to follow various training, courses, and workshops during your PhD-trajectory.

We will provide you with a stimulating and challenging environment with a high degree of flexibility and autonomy and with many opportunities for learning and development.

The exact starting date of the position is scheduled for October 1 2021 but is negotiable to some extent. 


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Koen Luyckx, tel.: +32 16 32 59 78, mail: koen.luyckx@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. Laurence Claes, tel.: +32 16 32 61 33, mail: laurence.claes@kuleuven.be.

When applying, please provide a cover letter, CV, transcripts of your grades, and contact details of one or two reference persons.

Job interviews will be held in the second half of July.
You can apply for this job no later than July 12, 2021 via the online application tool KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.