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The Sense of Commitment: a minimal analogue of commitment for joint action

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The intricacies of commitment unravelled

An in-depth study on the sense of commitment can help us understand what ties people together in working towards a joint cause. It can also support in developing robots that interact more effectively with humans.

Digital Economy
Industrial Technologies

Peoples’ commitment to a joint effort or action seems to be inextricably linked to our emotions and how we interact with others. Understanding the intricacies of commitment as a concept can ultimately help foster a sense of community, further a noble cause or avoid conflict to say the least. The EU-funded SENSE OF COMMITMENT (The Sense of Commitment: a minimal analogue of commitment for joint action) project worked on articulating a theoretical framework for research on commitment and outlined experiments to test predictions emerging from the framework. To achieve its aims, the team pinpointed situational factors that modulate commitment and researched the modelling of cognitive and emotional mechanisms involved. It conducted philosophical analysis in order to articulate theories on sense of commitment, assimilating the results with relevant research gleaned from complementary fields such as behavioural economics and developmental psychology. Another key project activity involved applying the theoretical framework to human robot interaction in order to facilitate the work of roboticists in designing robots capable of participating in commitments with humans. This intriguing line of research led to partnerships within the robotics fields, leading to planned new experiments in human robot interaction under a future project. Further work involved developing experimental paradigms, such testing the sense of commitment in terms of resistance to distractions and resistance from participating in a joint action or being tempted away. The work revealed that coordination is a key factor enhancing the sense of commitment. Through its study of commitment in relation to joint action, the project team gained better understanding of human social phenomena. In the meantime, new future projects with developmental psychologists from this initiative’s theoretical work have been planned. Already the project’s results have been published in a several papers, with more revealing findings on the topic expected to emerge in follow-up projects. The research from SENSE OF COMMITMENT is bound to enhance our understanding of commitment, supporting not only collaboration and interaction among humans, but also human-robot collaboration and interaction.


Commitment, robots, joint action, behavioural economics, developmental psychology

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