Commitment is a cornerstone of human social life. Commitments render individuals’ behaviour predictable despite regular fluctuations in their desires and interests, and this enables humans to plan and coordinate joint actions involving multiple agents. Yet, despite its importance, our sense of commitment has remained poorly understood. In particular, researchers have paid relatively little attention to the mechanisms and processes by which people identify and assess the level of commitment agents bring to a given social interaction.   

The SENSE OF COMMITMENT Project seeks to fill this lacuna. It consists of five interconnected sub-projects, each with its own objective. 

Subproject I aims to specify the situations which elicit a sense of commitment. 

Subproject II investigates how situational factors (e.g. degree of coordination, repetition, costs invested and signaling) modulate our sense of commitment. 

Subproject III develops a theoretical account, exploring the possibility that emotions may serve to integrate heterogeneous factors into a unified (and intrinsically motivating) sense of commitment. 

Subproject IV investigates the emergence of the sense of commitment in childhood, exploring the hypothesis that a sense of commitment is more fundamental than an understanding of this. 

Subproject V investigates the extent to which the sense of commitment operates independently of explicit beliefs about commitment. To this end, it aims to identify what factors modulate the sense of commitment in the context of human-robot interactions and to investigate the effects that these factors have upon people’s explicit beliefs about commitments.    

In each case, the SENSE OF COMMITMENT will generate basic scientific knowledge of relevance to the social sciences, cognitive sciences, and humanities.