Postdoctoral researcher, Project 'Analyzing human physical reasoning and strategy exploration in physical puzzles'

(salary grade E13 TV-L, under the reserve that funds are granted, starting no later than from 1.10.2021 / for 3 years / closing date for applications 15.12.2020, Ref SCIoI-C3-C30b)

The Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany (Director: Prof. Dr. Ralph Hertwig) invites applications for a Postdoc position for the Cluster of Excellence “Science of Intelligence” Postdoctoral Position – E 13 TVöD Bund, 39 hours/week.

We invite applications for a postdoc position on the project “Analyzing human physical reasoning and strategy exploration in physical puzzles”

This position is embedded in the DFG-funded Cluster of Excellence “Science of lntelligence”.

The Technische Universität Berlin invites applications for a PostDoc position for the Cluster of Excellence “Science of Intelligence”.

What are the principles of intelligence, shared by all forms of intelligence, no matter whether artificial or biological, whether robot, computer program, human, or animal? And how can we apply these principles to create intelligent technology?

Answering these questions – in an ethically responsible way – is the central scientific objective of the new Cluster of Excellence Science of Intelligence (, where researchers from a large number of analytic and synthetic disciplines – artificial intelligence, machine learning, control, robotics, computer vision, behavioural biology, psychology, educational science, neuroscience, and philosophy – join forces to create a multi-disciplinary research program across universities and research institutes in Berlin. Interdisciplinary research projects have been defined (, which combine analytic and synthetic research and which address key aspects of individual, social, and collective intelligence.

Working field

Analyzing human physical reasoning and strategy exploration on physical puzzles

This project investigates human physical problem solving on virtual physical puzzles. The goal is to understand what strategies humans develop and use to solve such tasks. We will design novel experimental scenarios to perform empirical studies with humans, but will use the same scenarios to also evaluate computational methods for physical problem solving. In particular, we build on recent methods for physical reasoning and robot manipulation planning. Key empirical questions concern the repertoire of strategies employed by humans and whether we find certain kinds of strategy switching. A key question on the computational side is whether their internal strategies to explore potential solutions can be related to human behavior. 


Applicants must hold a PhD and a Diploma/Master’s degree in psychology or cognitive science and should have proven skills/background in following topics:

  • Interest in interdisciplinary research in the context of the Cluster of Excellence “Science of Intelligence”
  • Designing, programming, and running behavioral experiments and online experiments
  • Interest in the cognitive underpinnings of decision making
  • Proficiency in computational statistics and data analysis using either frequentist or Bayesian approaches (e.g., in R or Python)
  • Experience in developing computational models of cognition
  • Strong programming skills (e.g., in Matlab or Python) and experience with machine learning – especially Bayesian inference and reinforcement learning
  • Excellent English writing and communication skills

Application procedure

Candidates should upload their application preferably via the portal in order to receive full consideration.

Applications should include: motivation letter, curriculum vitae, transcripts of records (for both BSc and MSc), copies of degree certificates (BSc, MSc, PhD if applicable), abstracts of Bachelor-, Master and (if applicable) PhD-thesis, list of publications and one selected manuscript (if applicable), names of two qualified persons who are willing to provide references, and any documents candidates feel may help us assess their competence. We are kindly asking you to submit your application without a photo.

The Max Planck Society strives for gender and diversity equality. We welcome applications from all backgrounds.
The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals.

A written application with the reference number and the above-mentioned documents could be sent to Technische Universität Berlin – Der Präsident – Fakultät IV, Cluster SClol, Sekr. SClol, Marchstr. 23, 10587 Berlin.

For more information about the position, please contact Dr. Thorsten Pachur ().