Charlotte Vrijen

Charlotte Vrijen

Postdoctoral researcher

University of Groningen

Charlotte Vrijen is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Groningen. Her main research interest is positive bias, i.e., the phenomenon that many people view the world more positively and brightly than it really is. Positive bias may protect us from developing mental health problems.

During her PhD, Charlotte investigated absence of positive bias in adolescence as an underlying mechanism of depression. She combined longitudinal data collected every 2 to 3 years with more fine-grained momentary assessments, laboratory tasks, and biomarkers.

Charlotte’s current research focuses on the intergenerational transmission of social experiences. Her aim for the future is to combine both lines of research and investigate when and how individual differences in positive bias arise, and what role genetic vulnerabilities and parenting play.

Charlotte is passionate about improving scientific practice. She is a member of her department’s Ethics Committee and of the Open Science Community Groningen, where she gives pre-registration workshops. Examples of open science practices in her work are pre-registrations, sharing syntax and data, and publishing open access.

Download her CV.


  • Positive bias
  • Optimism
  • Mental health
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Social experiences
  • Developmental psychology


  • PhD in psychiatry, 2019

    University of Groningen

  • PhD in philosophy, 2007

    University of Groningen

  • Master in philosophy, 2001

    University of Groningen

Work experience


Postdoctoral researcher

University of Groningen

Aug 2018 – Present The Netherlands
My postdoc is part of a larger project on intergenerational transmission of social experiences. I coordinate the genetic part of the larger project, create polygenic risk scores, recently wrote a meta-analysis on outcomes of bullying perpetration for the perpetrators, and supervise a PhD student, bachelor students, master students, and interns.

PhD in psychiatry

University Medical Center Groningen

Dec 2013 – Aug 2018 The Netherlands
My second PhD was part of the ‘No fun no glory project’, a biopsychosocial investigation of loss of pleasure in young adults. This project involved an exploratory intervention study of lifestyle advice based on momentary assessments and a tandem skydive, preceded by a screening questionnaire among almost 3000 young people.

Researcher/policy maker

Ministry of Internal Affairs

Sep 2005 – Dec 2013 The Hague

PhD in philosophy

University of Groningen

Sep 2001 – Aug 2005 The Netherlands
My PhD in philosophy was part of the project ‘The Critique of Language in the Philosophy of the Later Middle Ages, Renaissance and the Twentieth Century. Patterns of Conceptual Similarity in Philosophical Argument.’ I wrote my dissertation on the published an unpublished writings of the Twentieth century Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle.


Statistical analysis

Multilevel meta-analysis, multilevel regression analysis, longitudinal data analysis, network analysis of ecological momentary assessments. Experience with R, Mplus, SPSS, Python (very basic)

Data collection

I coordinate biomarker collection and analysis and collect data with surveys, momentary assessment tools, and behavioural tasks. I also have experience with lifestyle interventions.

Genetics in social science

I coordinate the genetic part of the CAPE project, including the construction of so-called polygenic scores (indexes of genetic predisposition to specific phenotypes).

Open science and ethics

I am a member of my department’s Ethics Committee and of the Open Science Community Groningen, where I give regular pre-registration workshops. Examples of open science practices in my work are pre-registrations, sharing syntax and data, and publishing open access.


I am daily supervisor of a PhD student working on parent-child transmission of peer problems, and have supervised bachelor and master theses, as well as student interns and assistants. I teach a third-year bachelor course on how to perform a systematic literature review.


Reviewer (on occasional basis) for the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, Frontiers in Psychology, and Psychology Research and Behavior Management.


Travel award

Travel award (300 USD) to attend the biennial SRCD conference from 2019-03-21 until 2019-03-23 in Baltimore (USA)

Outstanding poster presentation award

Outstanding poster presentation award (150 USD) for my poster presentation ‘Measuring BDNF in saliva: not yet possible with commercial ELISA kits’ at the international 4th biennial conference of the Society for Ambulatory Assessment.

Recent Publications

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(2021). Polygenic risk for aggressive behavior from late childhood through early adulthood. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

PDF Project DOI

(2020). Blije gezichten en andere beloningen: aandacht voor positieve informatie als beschermend mechanisme tegen depressie. Neuropraxis.


(2019). De genetica van opvoeding. Kind en adolescent.

PDF Project DOI

(2019). The Domains of Pleasure Scale (DOPS): A novel questionnaire to measure anhedonia.

PDF Code Dataset Project


  • 31 503635640
  • Grote Rozenstraat 38, Groningen, 9712 TJ
  • Enter the Nieuwenhuis building and take the stairs to Office 0208 on the 2nd floor
  • Monday-Friday 9:00 to 17:30
  • DM Me