Postdoc in cognitive psychology experiments within the ERC project Adapted to War (AWAR) – Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

Application Deadline: Monday, January 17, 2022

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) invites applications for a 1.5-year, full-time Postdoc position within the project Adapted to War (AWAR), funded by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant).

The position provides an opportunity to work in a leading international research institute, located in Norway’s capital city, as part of an interdisciplinary project on human aggression.

Summary of AWAR

Have humans evolved psychological adaptations to coalitional aggression or small-scale war? This question has generated major scientific debate involving anthropologists, archaeologists, economists, primatologists, psychologists, and political scientists. If humans are adapted to war, then human psychology must be equipped with adaptations designed for the effective navigation of war: efficient, complex, and specialized (sensory, perceptual, cognitive, affective, and behavioral) mechanisms promoting planning, execution, and defense against coalitional attacks. AWAR focuses, specifically, on coalitional formidability assessment mechanisms, which likely helped ancestral humans to avoid costly fights. The project also explores contemporary implications of coalitional formidability assessment mechanisms: if they indeed exist, do they shape our attitudes and behavior today, particularly in the context of modern political violence (e.g., violent protests or civil conflicts)?

The Postdoc’s role in the team

The project’s core team will consist of Postdoc 1, Stefan Goetz (psychologist; expertise: evolutionary psychology), Postdoc 2 (psychologist/cognitive scientist; expected expertise: cognitive psychology experiments), and Principal Investigator (PI), Henrikas Bartusevičius (political scientist; expertise: the psychology of political violence).

This vacancy concerns Postdoc 2, whose key responsibilities will be as follows:

  • Collaborating with the research team in designing cognitive psychology experiments (online and/or lab) to probe the existence and design features of the theorized coalitional formidability assessment mechanism;
  • Contributing to conducting and analyzing the experiments;
  • Writing journal articles in collaboration with Postdoc 2 and PI.


The project provides an opportunity to contribute to a novel research program that combines psychology, political science, and evolutionary theory to understand basic psychological processes underpinning coalitional aggression and contemporary political violence. The project also provides an opportunity to contribute to the establishment and development of a pioneering political psychology lab/research group in Norway.

The project and the institute are committed to supporting the Postdoc’s career development. Therefore, the project includes funding (…….


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