Postdoctoral Position
Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab
Beyond Conflict Innovation Lab
University of Pennsylvania

The Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at Penn (PI: Emile Bruneau) seeks two 2-year Post Doctoral Researchers to conduct research directly related to intergroup conflict, broadly defined. The laboratory is housed in the Annenberg School for Communication at Penn, and is closely associated with the Communication Neuroscience Lab (PI: Emily Falk). The Post Doctoral Researchers are funded through the Beyond Conflict Innovation Lab, a partnership between the Boston-based NGO Beyond Conflict and the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab. The co-equal partnership of scientists and practitioners is designed to inform scientific research with the intuitions and experiences of real-world social conflicts, to infuse the design, implementation, and evaluation of social interventions with scientific research, and to educate policymakers and practitioners about relevant findings from cognitive and behavioral science.

The Post-Doctoral Researchers will be able to draw upon the expertise of world leaders who have successfully navigated conflict, and will be able to help design and craft research that has the potential to guide real-world social interventions. The research projects will therefore be a mix of basic science and applied research, and all will be aimed at big, real-world problems. The Post-Doctoral Researchers will collaborate with the PI on existing projects, and with the staff of Beyond Conflict on applied initiatives. The focus of the research will be on examining and addressing political polarization, and on reducing racism towards minority groups in the U.S. Postdoctoral Researchers will also be encouraged to develop their own research questions that target the goal of better understanding the psychological drivers of real-world social conflict, injustice and inequality, and/or affecting change in these intergroup contexts.


  •  A PhD (or foreign equivalent) in psychology, cognitive neuroscience or a related discipline by the time of appointment.
  • A strong publication track record and a demonstrated ability to conduct independent research.
  • Experience conducting survey and/or behavioral research with experimental or correlational designs; excellent methodological, quantitative/statistical skills.
  • Strong organizational skills (e.g., collection and management of large datasets).
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with external partners of diverse backgrounds.


  • Past experience and willingness to communicate research findings to lay audiences.
  • Experience working outside of academia, particularly in the NGO or public sector.

Additional Information:

This position is fully funded for at least two years, with the possibility of extending the position pending future funding. The fellowship includes dedicated funds for research. The postdoc will have many opportunities to practice skills such as presenting and networking in order to prepare for an independent career. Since the research is focused on conflict around the world, applicants with specific interest or direct experience with conflict and/or discrimination are particularly encouraged to apply.

Application materials should include a CV, a 2-3 page personal/research statement (including biographical information, relevant research experience, and career goals), and contact details of up to three referees.

The target start date is Spring 2018. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. Please direct inquiries to Dr. Emile Bruneau by email (emile.bruneau@asc.upenn.edu) with the subject line "Post-Doc Position".

Collectively blaming groups for the actions of individuals can license vicarious retribution. Acts of terrorism by Muslim
extremists against innocents, and the spikes in anti-Muslim hate crimes against innocent Muslims that follow, suggest that
reciprocal bouts of collective blame can spark cycles of violence. How can this cycle be short-circuited? After establishing a
link between collective blame of Muslims and anti-Muslim attitudes and behavior, we used an “interventions tournament” to
identify a successful intervention (among many that failed). The “winning” intervention reduced collective blame of Muslims
by highlighting hypocrisy in the ways individuals collectively blame Muslims—but not other groups (White Americans,
Christians)—for individual group members’ actions. After replicating the effect in an independent sample, we demonstrate
that a novel interactive activity that isolates the psychological mechanism amplifies the effectiveness of the collective blame
hypocrisy intervention and results in downstream reductions in anti-Muslim attitudes and anti-Muslim behavior.