AUFF NOVA Grant for ​Panos Mitkidis

Panos Mitkidis receives DKK 2.3 million from AUFF NOVA for the project 'The Dark Side of Commitment: investigating how a sense of commitment can motivate and justify corrupt behavior'

Associate Prof. Panos Mitkidis

About the Project
Commitment is a glue holding human society together. It stabilizes our motivation to perform actions that others are relying on us to perform – even in the face of fluctuations in our desires and interests – and thereby also stabilizes others’ willingness to rely on us. Moreover, social institutions such as jobs, money, government, friendship, and marriage depend for their origin and stability upon the credibility of commitments. But when we are committed to specific other people, groups, or purposes, can this lead us to favor those people or groups at the expense of other people, groups, or norms? Can this make us blind to our own morality? In other words, can commitment sometimes be a source of corruption?

The research group will focus on investigating this question by focusing on two routes leading from commitment to corruption: one motivational and one justificational. How can commitment take the wrong turn and motivate corruptive interaction? And under what conditions does commitment serve as a justificational mechanism for dishonest and corrupt interactions?

The research group involves Panos Mitkidis (Dept. of Management, AU and SSRI, Duke U) and external collaborator John Michael (Dept. of Cognitive Science, CEU).

“Corruption and dishonesty can have considerable financial and societal costs. By identifying mechanisms which may lead people acting out of commitment to engage in corruption, it may be possible to identify ways of mitigating or counteracting the effects of commitment on corruption. We hope that our research will inform and constrain the further development of that research,” Panos and John conclude.