Postdoctoral researcher studying the psychological significance of online recommendations


Job description

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher in a project that aims to empirically investigate the psychological impact of online recommendation systems. The successful candidate will be employed by the Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm, Sweden, and work in close collaboration with Associate Professor Pontus Strimling and Dr. Emma Engström. The project is part of the Institute’s research theme “New technologies and the future of humanity”. The working language is English. The position is fixed term of two (plus one) years.  


The requirement for this position is a PhD received at latest May 2020. We are looking for a candidate with an interest in social psychology, media psychology, marketing, behavioral economics, or a related field. Previous research experience on artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML) is not necessary. The successful candidate will be independent and have an interest in interdisciplinary research.

We wish that you have an interest in one of the aspects relevant to the project, as well as skills regarding data collection, survey methodology, the design of questionnaires and experiments, and abilities to analyze such data. The study of the social and ethical implications of AI/ML is a novel and emerging research field. This means that there are plenty of interesting hypotheses to investigate for an engaged researcher.  

About the project

Online recommendations and advertisement based on AI/ML systems appear almost everywhere online – they suggest restaurants, music, news, partners, and opinions for us. Recommendation systems aim to elicit the user’s preferences and make recommendations accordingly. However, according to the notion of constructive preferences, consumer choice may be constructed rather than absolute. Some argue that there is no neutral choice architecture, because any way the choice is presented will influence the decision-maker.

In this sense, recommendation systems are effectively choice architects. Some of the questions that will be explored in this project are: Do recommendation systems enhance or reduce diversity in choices? What is the effect of recommendation systems on our media consumption patterns and which are the indirect consequences? How have recommendation systems changed interpersonal behavior? Previous relevant research includes the psychology of choice, the framing of decisions, cognitive biases, as well as studies within behavioral economics on the influence of choice architectures.


Applicants are requested to enclose the following documents in English with their application. Please compile all the documents as a single pdf file:

Send your application to no later than 31 January 2020. For more information about the project, please contact Emma Engström For more information about the Institute for Futures Studies, please contact Christina Alwert

We look forward to applications from all sexes, backgrounds, functionalities, and life experiences.

About the research team

We are a research team with backgrounds in psychology, sociology, economics, mathematics, and philosophy, and we share an engagement in technology and social changes. We believe that AI will have enormous impact on society, and we think that research has a key role to play when it comes to understanding this influence. Therefore, we want to evaluate the social and ethical implications of AI/ML – both theoretically and empirically. We value creativity and an open mind. Read more about what we do at AI Futures, our blog about the social impact of AI. 

The Institute for Futures Studies carries out interdisciplinary research on important future issues and participates in the public discussion with its seminar and publication activities. Under the management of Director Gustaf Arrhenius (Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy), over eighty researchers from various disciplines work with future studies and long-term analysis.