PhD Position on Effects of Social Media on Adolescents' Alcohol Consumption KU Leuven, School for Mass Communication Research Belgium




The Leuven School for Mass Communication Research studies the use of mass media, social media and ICT, and how these media may harm or enhance an individual’s wellbeing. In our research, we describe the relationship between exposure to information and entertainment media and various components of individuals’ wellbeing, and develop theoretical insight into the underlying mechanisms of these media effects. Our work draws on, and strives to contribute to, the most advanced techniques and insights available in communication studies, cognitive and developmental psychology, sociology, and public health. The School’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, aggression, fear of crime, fear of sexual violence, road safety, depression, body image, sleep, and nutrition. The School adheres to the highest academic standards and strives towards publishing its research in top academic journals in various disciplines. We also aim at contributing to national and international multidisciplinary research projects with societal relevance. The School is committed to guiding PhD students towards high international standards, as well as teaching undergraduate students towards a deep understanding of communication processes and media psychology.


The selected candidate is expected to prepare a PhD in communication sciences under supervision of Prof. Dr. Kathleen Beullens. This research aims to unravel the complex associations between adolescents’ social media use and alcohol consumption.

Specifically, the project on which the PhD candidate will be hired aims to, first, determine the specific impact of adolescents’ use of social media on alcohol use and misuse over and beyond the impact of offline influences (e.g., dispositional and social factors). Second, the study is the first to take the heterogeneity of different social media platforms into account when examining the longitudinal and reciprocal associations between adolescents’ SNS use and alcohol consumption. A multi- methodological approach combining qualitative interviews and a quantitative longitudinal survey will be used to attain these objectives. Not only will this study contribute to a more sophisticated understanding of why adolescents consume alcohol, it will also lead to the development of a conceptual framework explaining the various ways through which adolescents’ social media uses are associated with health and risk-related outcomes.



Master in communication sciences (cum laude) or related fields (psychology, sociology,...). Also students soon receiving their master degree are welcome to apply.

You are fluent in English and in Dutch, and you have excellent writing and presentation skills.

You have a very good understanding of quantitative (survey) and qualitative research and data analytic skills (e.g. Spss, R, ...) and are willing to further improve these skills over time.

You are passionate about doing research, and you are eager to communicate about your research through the publication of your findings in scientific journals and the presentation at international conferences. 

You have excellent social skills, you are able to work both in team and independently.



  • A full-time PhD position in an initial 1-year contract, which is renewable up to 4 years (total time project 4 years).
  • Salary and benefits are in line with the university salary scales for PhD candidates and highly competitive according to international standards.
  • PhD candidates will be enrolled in KU Leuven’s Doctoral Programme of the Social Sciences, in which they acquire many other important career skills.
  • Applications can be submitted in English or Dutch.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Kathleen Beullens, tel.: +32 16 32 32 19, mail:
You can apply for this job no later than July 08, 2018 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

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