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The Sense of Commitment: An Integrative Framework for Modeling the Sense of Commitment

Dr. John Michael has commenced a major new 5-year research project funded by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council.

Project Aims:

The project will develop a theoretical framework for research on the sense of commitment, and create a suite of experimental paradigms for testing predictions generated by the theoretical framework. Combining theoretical research conducted at the Department of Philosophy with carefully designed lab experiments carried out at Warwick's Department of Psychology and at the Department of Cognitive Science at the Central European University in Budapest, the project will illuminate how and when people are willing to make and honor commitments, and to rely on others’ commitments, and will also shed light on the emergence of a sense of commitment in young children. In collaboration with the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, the project will also lay the groundwork for autonomous robots that participate in commitments with humans (e.g. for senior citizens’ homes, factory work and rescue operations. By focusing on joint actions involving pairs of agents, it will illuminate the fundamental mechanisms underlying large-scale human social phenomena.


Project Team:

Dr. John Michael, Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy, will work on developing the theoretical framework, and will collaborate with the other team members on all other aspects of the project.

Prof. Stephen Butterfill, Senior Project Advisor, is an Associate Professor at the the Department of Philosophy. He will collaborate on developing the theoretical framework and on the design and interpretation of experiments.

Prof. Sotaro Kita, Senior Project Advisor, is a Professor at the Department of Psychology. He will collaborate on the research in developmental psychology.

Dr Wayne Christensen has taken up a postdoctoral position at the University of Warwick.

Barbora Siposova, Research fellow, Department of Psychology, University of Warwick. Barbora has a background in developmental psychology. Her research topics include questions about the emergence of a sense of commitment in young children in various types of interactions. She is interested in the effects of eye contact, nonverbal communication, joint attention and common knowledge on coordination and prosocial behaviour.

Alexander Green, PhD candidate, Department of Psychology, University of Warwick. His primary research focuses on the development of a minimal sense of commitment in young children, though he will also collaborate with other team members in other aspects of the project.

Margherita Isella PhD student, San Raffaele University (Milan), Research Fellow, Central European University (Budapest). Margherita is completing a PhD in Philosophy at San Raffaele University in Milan, with a dissertation on the normative, psychological and developmental aspects of promise keeping. Margherita is broadly interested in philosophical and psychological approaches to morality and sociality. In February 2017 she joined the Department of Cognitive Science at Central European University in Budapest as a Research Fellow within The Sense of Commitment project.

Further positions will be advertised during the course of the project please check the Job Opportunities link at the top of this page.

Opportunities for kids! If your child might be interested in taking part in one of our developmental studies, you can sign up to receive more information here: sign up

If you are interested in learning more or in participating in the experiments, please don't hesitate to contact John Michael

For more information on the project, you can read an overview in the ERC website here.