Köbis, N., Van Prooijen, J.-W., Righetti, F., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2016). Prospection in individual and interpersonal corruption dilemmas. Review of General Psychology, 20, 71-85.
Corruption represents one of the main societal challenges of our time. At present, there is no theoretical framework distinguishing the prospective decision-making processes involved in different acts of corruption. We differentiate between two broad categories of corrupt acts that have different implications for prospective cognition: individual corrupt acts, which refer to a power holder individually abusing entrusted power; and interpersonal corrupt acts, which refer to a power holder abusing entrusted power in collaboration with other corrupt agents. We model the decision structure as two inherently different social dilemmas: individual corruption requires a power holder to prospect own and collective consequences, whereas interpersonal corruption requires a prospection of self-interest, the interest of corrupt partner(s) conflict and collective interests (nested social dilemma). Individual and interpersonal corruption rest on different prospective decision-making processes, which we illustrate along intrapersonal factors (prospection of costs and benefits, self-control, guilt) and interpersonal factors (social norms, trust). We explore the advantages of this novel distinction for theory development, experimental corruption research, as well as anti-corruption efforts.