Postdoc within the ERC project "Adapted to War" (AWAR)

Please note: The deadline for applying to this position has passed.

Application Deadline: Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) invites applications for a two-year, full-time Postdoc position in human coalitional aggression 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 specialized adaptations designed for the effective navigation of war: planning, executing, and defending against coalitional attacks. AWAR probes the existence of such adaptations. It focuses, specifically, on coalitional formidability assessment mechanisms, which likely helped ancestral humans to avoid costly fights. AWAR 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 (psychologist/cognitive scientist; expected expertise: evolutionary psychology and information-processing/computational models), Postdoc 2 (psychologist/cognitive scientist; expected expertise: cognitive experiments), and Principal Investigator (PI), Henrikas Bartusevičius (political scientist; expertise: the psychology of political violence).

This vacancy concerns Postdoc 1, whose responsibilities will be as follows:

  • Collaborating with PI in theorizing an information-processing/computational model of a psychological mechanisms regulating coalitional aggression (i.e., the coalitional formidability assessment mechanism);
  • Collaborating with Postdoc 2 and PI in designing experiments to probe the existence and design features of the theorized coalitional formidability assessment mechanism;
  • Contributing to conducting and analyzing cognitive lab 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 commit to support the Postdoc’s career development. Therefore, the project includes generous funding (e.g., for conference travel and long-term research stays at other research institutions) to help the successful candidate build new competences. The project also has an ambitious publication plan, targeting general science or multidisciplinary journals. The project includes a large budget for well-powered and cross-cultural research, spanning 20 lab experiments and online surveys in 30 countries. The project also includes a large budget for research assistance to support the Postdocs.

The project will collaborate with other psychology and political psychology labs in Norway and Denmark, including the Politics and Evolution Lab (directed by Michael B. Petersen) at Aarhus University. The project thus offers opportunities to network and present research in environments that have a long tradition in evolutionary political psychology.

The project will also strive to create conditions for the Postdoc to complete ongoing research, initiate new research agendas, and apply for new research funding. 

Work environment and conditions

PRIO has an international research staff of approximately 85 members in full and part-time positions, and in addition 15 in administrative and support functions. The working language at the institute is English. PRIO is an equal opportunity employer and values staff diversity.

The institute is located in spacious and attractive premises in central Oslo, Europe’s fastest-growing capital city. Employee benefits include access to the PRIO cabin in the mountains, a subsidized canteen, weekly physiotherapy exercise, weekly running group, discounted gym membership and various social events.

Postdoctoral scholars at PRIO formally hold the position of a Senior Researcher. The starting salary for a Senior Researcher at PRIO is NOK 681,600 (equivalent to step 73 in the Norwegian State salary system). Employees are offered membership in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The candidate should have an interest in PRIO’s broader mission of conducting high-quality academic research on questions relevant to the promotion of a more peaceful world. For more information about PRIO’s research, see  

The position is for two-years. This is a full-time research position with no teaching requirements.



  1. PhD in psychology, cognitive science, or another relevant field;
  2. Expertise in evolutionary psychology;
  3. Expertise or familiarity with information-processing/computational models;
  4. Familiarity with cognitive lab experiments;
  5. Fluency in English;
  6. Excellent academic writing skills.


  1. Familiarity with or interest in research on human aggression, in particular coalitional aggression;
  2. Familiarity with or interest in research on contemporary political violence;
  3. Experience with publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on (i) the (required and desired) qualifications specified above, (ii) the quality of the submitted work, and (iii) the publication record.  

The PhD dissertation must have been submitted before the application deadline and the degree must have been awarded before the position is taken up. The candidate must be present at PRIO and is therefore expected to live in or near Oslo after taking up the position. However candidates residing abroad should not be discouraged to apply because of the current travel/moving restrictions.

Application procedure

Before applying, the candidates should read the project proposal of AWAR, focusing, in particular on Work Packages 1 and 2 (WP1 and WP2). To access the project proposal, please email one of the contacts listed at the end of this advertisement.

The application must be submitted in English via online application system no later than 1 June 2021. The application must include:

  1. An application letter (1–2 pages) addressing the required and desired qualifications as listed above. Please briefly describe your relevant experience and qualifications for each of the 9 qualifications listed above (if you do not have experience/qualifications pertaining to one or more of the qualifications listed above, just say so).
  2. A statement (1–2 pages) on how your qualifications will contribute to implementing WP1 (in particular) and WP2 of the project.
  3. One or two papers that you consider as your best work. This work, preferably but not mandatorily, should demonstrate the qualifications as listed above. Single- or first-authored work carries greater weight. You are welcome to submit unpublished manuscripts, as long as you consider them as demonstrating the highest quality of your research and the qualifications listed above.
  4. A CV in English, which must include a list of publications.
  5. Scanned copies of original transcripts/certificates from higher education, in one PDF file.

The project offers a degree of flexibility with respect to candidates’ research during the project. Therefore, the applicants are welcome, but are not required, to suggest (in Attachment 2) research ideas that could be integrated into WP1 and WP2 of AWAR.

Assessment procedure

The interviews with selected candidates will take place during June 2021. The starting date for the position is 1 August 2021 or subject to mutual agreement.

Questions, as well as requests for the AWAR project description, should be sent to Senior Researcher Henrikas Bartusevičius