Available research internships

There are usually plenty of opportunities at the HabitLab for students who are looking to gain experience in conducting research! We supervise Bachelor and Master theses of psychology and psychobiology students, as well as the ResearchMaster internship and thesis. During their projects, Master students are encouraged to actively take part in our weekly journal clubs. Of course it is also possible to gain research experience as a volunteer, or in the role of research assistant (for a modest financial recompensation). Below we have posted some advertisements for specific ongoing projects. However, there may be other opportunities as well, and you can always email Sanne de Wit s.dewit@uva.nl – for more information, or otherwise the researcher on one of the specific projects posted below. We ask that you include your CV.

Neural correlates of acquiring habits and adjusting them with implementation intentions

We are looking for students to work on an EEG study in which we investigate how goal-directed behavior turns into a habit with increased repetition, and what changes in the brain when this habit has to be flexibly adjusted. Goal intentions (formulating the goal of a behavioral change) will be compared with implementation intentions (formulating a concrete if-then plan) as a means to improve the adjustment of learned habits. Whereas previous MRI studies have delineated the brain networks involved in goal-directed and habitual behavior, not much is known about the temporal development of their involvement or the communication between them. To investigate this, we will measure EEG while participants perform the Sneaky Skateboard Game, a computer game developed in our lab.

For this study, we are looking for at least two internship or thesis students. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Irene van de Vijver, i.vandevijver@uva.nl.

Who benefits from implementation intentions to increase habitual medication intake in daily life?

In this project, young and older (65 years and older), healthy participants will follow a four-week procedure to acquire a habit of taking medication on a daily basis in real life. Goal intentions (formulating the goal of a behavioral change) will be compared with implementation intentions (formulating a concrete if-then plan) as a means to improve acquiring this habit. Before starting the procedure, participants will take part in two lab sessions, in which they will perform multiple cognitive tasks and psychological measures. We aim to gain more insight in the individual differences in cognitive profile that predict how easily new habits are acquired in daily life, how automatic the performance of this habit becomes, and whether implementation intentions are beneficial to acquiring the habit.

For this study, we are looking for multiple internship or thesis students that have Dutch as their mother tongue. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Irene van de Vijver, i.vandevijver@uva.nl.

Oops I did it again – Does replacing habits work better than simply suppressing them?

Several intervention studies suggest that replacing undesirable habits is more effective than simply trying to suppress them. The aim of the present project is to develop an experimental model of habit replacement versus suppression, to study this issue in a controlled manner. Furthermore, future studies will use this task to compare patient groups and to uncover the neural basis using neuroimaging. To this end, we will adapt a well-established computer task that assesses the balance between goal-directed and habitual control, namely the slips-of-action paradigm.

We are looking for 1 or 2 master thesis students to carry out this project. If you are interested or would like to receive more information about this project, please contact Sanne de Wit: s.dewit@uva.nl.

Dagelijkse structuur en gewoonte-gedrag in Anorexia Nervosa

In dit project worden patienten met anorexia nervosa vergeleken met een controle group op het aanleren van een nieuwe (neutrale) gewoonte. Hoe goed zijn de twee groepen in het aanleren van een nieuwe gewoonte en deze incorporeren in hun dagelijks leven? Hangt dit samen met de mate van structuur van hun dagelijks leven?

Voor dit project zoeken we 1-2 masterthese studenten of studentassistenten. Voorwaarden zijn bereidheid om te reizen naar verschillende centra voor werving van deelnemers (reiskosten worden vergoed), NL-talig, en een interesse in eetstoornissen en de psychologie van leren en motivatie. Voor meer informatie, email: Sanne de Wit, s.dewit@uva.nl.

The mechanism of habitual behavior

Habitual behavior plays an important role in our daily lives.  Habitual behavior was initially performed in order to achieve a specific goal, but has gradually shifted over time towards behavior that can be triggered automatically by the presence of cues in the environment. The aim of this research is to increase our understanding of the behavioral mechanism that underlies habitual behavior. We use computer tasks to investigate the gradual transition that takes place from goal directed behavior to habitual behavior and examine factors that differentiate habitual behavior from goal directed behavior. Please contact Sanne de Wit, s.dewit@uva.nl, for more information.