Social Learning in Social Networks

Social Learning in Social Networks

  • English language proficiency required
  • Amsterdam

Website Connected Minds Lab


Our everyday decisions, from what to order at a restaurant to which career path to take, are often informed or influenced by the opinions of others. This influence is sometimes explicit, when we ask for advice, but some, times also occurs without our awareness. For instance, when we passively observe many people with a swapfiets the idea may emerge that it is a good idea to have one too. These types of social learning occur not just randomly but part of a structed social network of friends and family.

In our lab we are interested in how people search for social information in their social network, how information or behaviors may propagate through these networks and how that is dependent on the type of connections. Most of our works focusses on social networks in high school, for two reasons; 1) this allows us to capture almost completely the most relevant networks of peers that is not possible in other age groups. In addition, this simplifies longitudinal data collection allowing for making stronger causal inferences. In sum, it gives us the most detailed insight in the network dynamics of social learning. 2) Adolescence is the period where sensitivity to social influence is the greatest and has been associated with several important real-world behaviors such as, starting smoking, drug use, and bullying, but also positive health behaviors and academic achievement.

During your project you will be part of the Connected Minds Lab (, a new interdisciplinary group within Developmental Psychology. You can gain knowledge by working together with scientists with backgrounds in cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, behavioral economics and biology. You will learn things about social network theory, social influence, social norms, and designing experiments. Also, you not just run your own project but will become part of a larger team of enthousiastic researchers across all levels.

There are several different projects that provide opportunities for internships on different levels. We are currently running projects that involve neuroimaging, experimental social network analyses, longitudinal social networks analyses, social media analyses and on-line studies. Most internship will involve research at schools and will involve visits to the school to map out the social network and will be followed up by experimental sessions. Example topics that are of interest are the social network dynamics of risky decision-making, addiction (smoking/drinking) and prosocial behavior. Own ideas within this wider research room are very welcome! Currently we are also running some neuroimaging studies focused on brain structure, and future studies on brain function are in the planning.

If you are interested about any of these topics we offer internships for Bachelor Psychology, Bachelor Psychobiology, Psychology Master (Social, Developmental and/or Health) and the Research Master Brain and Cognition. Please contact us if you want more information and want to join the team!

Given that we work with Dutch Schools, speaking Dutch is an advantage but not necessary (half of our team doesn’t)

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