The Situationist

The Situation of Corruption

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 6, 2010

We thought our readers be interested in an article by Eduardo Salcedo-Albarán, Isaac De León-Beltrán, and Mauricio Rubio’s, titled “Feelings, Brain and Prevention of Corruption”  (3 International Journal of Psychology Research 2008) now available on SSRN.

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In this paper we propose an answer for the question: why, sometimes, people don’t perceive corruption as a crime? To answer this question we use a neurological and a psychological concept. As humans, we experience our emotions and feelings in first person, but the neuropsychological mechanism known as “mirror neurons” makes possible to simulate emotions and feelings of others. It means that our emotions and feelings are linked with emotions and feelings of others. When mirror areas in the brain are activated we can understand and simulate in first person the actions, emotions and feelings of people. Because of these areas, the observer’s brain acts “as if” it was experiencing the same action or the same feeling that is perceived. Each organism establishes causal relations to understand, manipulate and move in the world. Causal relations can be classified as simple or complex. In a simple causal relation, cause and effect are close in space and time. When cause and effect are not close in space and time, the causal relation is complex. When perceiving or committing homicide, a simple causal relation is enough for identifying a victim, but when perceiving or committing a public corruption crime, a complex causal relation must be established for identifying a victim. When seeing someone committing bribe there is no an evident victim. If persons can’t identify victims of public corruption crimes, then they will not generate empathy feelings. When a victim is not identified and perceived, there is no reason for thinking that harm is being inflicted and mirror areas in the brain are not activated.

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You can download the article for free here.  To read a previous Situationist post on corruption, see “Larry Lessig’s Situationism.”

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4 Responses to “The Situation of Corruption”

  1. […] H/T The Situationist […]

  2. I am not aware of a crime “corruption,” in Minnesota Statutes or the United States Code. The story mentions “Bribery” which is a crime. The word corruption is less specific, more abstract and more subjective. Non-criminal as well as lawful practices may be corrupt. What is a corrupt use of money or other things or services of value can be quite subjective. The concept of victim is problematic. For example, harmful acts may be justified. Self-defense of your child from a violent attack, resulting in the death of the attacker would make the attacker a “victim” of a violent act. Another example: paying a bribe to a government official somewhere in the world to gain the release of a falsely arrested, innocent family member might be a crime, but would it be justified?

  3. […] “The Situation of Corruption,” […]

  4. […] “The Situation of Corruption,” […]

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