PhD Position: Technologies for health-related behavior change in vulnerable people: values & design

Fully-funded 4-year Ph.D. position on “Technologies for health-related behavior change in vulnerable people: values & design”

The Ph.D. position is interdisciplinary with a shared advisory team from the Philosophy & Ethics (Dr. Frank, Prof. Dr. Meijers) and Human-Technology Interaction (Dr. Huldtgren, Prof. IJsselsteijn) groups at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences at Eindhoven University of Technology and has a focus on the ethical dilemmas and psychological effects of technologies for health behavior change. We invite applications for a 4-year fully funded Ph.D. starting at the latest in September 2016.


Lifestyle diseases, chronic illness, and an aging population pose significant societal burdens. Symptoms and severity of chronic illness, often common in old age, can be reduced through greater adherence to medications and lifestyle changes. I addition, intervening in the health-related behaviors of children has the potential to reduce the long-term burden of disease, increase life quality, and reduce healthcare costs.

Technologies for behavior change (TBCs) are already being developed for prevention and lifestyle change, such as smartphone apps to analyze and quantify sleep patterns, diet, exercise, stress, and disease management. However, research on the psychological and ethical implications of these technologies for vulnerable populations, e.g. children or the elderly, is limited. There is a need to identify and counter the unintended psychological effects of constant tracking, privacy-risks, social pressures, and misleading data visualizations. Values are embedded in designs, e.g. a paternalistic stance that “forces” people into certain behaviors. To protect and respect users, there is a need for an assessment of ethical dilemmas related to paternalism and autonomy and ethical guidelines tailored to different persuasive strategies.

After a philosophical analysis and empirical study of TBCs, the final goal is to develop an ethical design framework based on the results of the preceding analyses adapting Value Sensitive Design (Friedman et al., 2013) specifically to TBC.

Your Profile 

The candidate holds a Master’s degree or equivalent degree in Philosophy or Ethics and is interested in health related technology. Alternatively, the candidate holds a Master’s degree or equivalent degree in Human Technology Interaction or Psychology and has strong interest in philosophy of technology.  Other Master’s degrees will also be considered, if the candidate shows a demonstrable interest in analytical as well as (qualitative) empirical work on the project’s topic. The TU/e is an equal opportunity employee. Members of underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Our Offer 

We offer you a four-year Ph.D. position, starting September 2016. The gross salary is € 2174 per month in the first year to €2.779 per month in the last year. Additionally, Eindhoven University of Technology provides excellent facilities for professional and personal development, a holiday allowance (amounts to 8% of the annual salary), an end-of-year bonus (amounts to 8,3%), and a number of additional benefits.

For more information on the Philosophy and Ethics group please see the website and for more information on the Human Technology Interaction Group please see the website


Your application should contain the following documents:

–          a letter of application which explains your interest in the position and your qualifications for it;

–          a curriculum vitae including a publication list;

–          a one-page motivation statement, elaborating on your ideas for a research focus in line with the project

–          names and contact information of two persons willing to provide references;

If you are interested, we invite you to apply before May 16, 2016. To apply please click HERE and use the “apply now” button. Please note that a maximum of 5 documents can be uploaded, so if you have more than 5 documents you will have to combine them. Please do not send us applications by e-mail.

Further information 

For further information, please contact Lily Frank (P&E) or Alina Huldtgren (HTI)

More information about the Department of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences can be found at

Information about the terms of employment can be obtained from Mrs. Ellen van der Mierden, HR advisor ( Further information about Eindhoven University of Technology can be found at

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