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Researchers from SWPS University have been awarded a total of PLN 6.5M in research grants from the National Research Center and the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange. The awarded projects will focus on various aspects of human psychology, law and social sciences, including: conflict, power and emancipation, consent in labor law, complex decision making in mature age, cognitive determinants of learning from other people, assessing the probability of committing prohibited acts and factors influencing moral judgements.

Avoidance - avoidance conflict and obedience in the Milgram paradigm

The experiments on obedience to authority conducted in 1960s by Stanley Milgram were undoubtedly a milestone for social psychology. What is more, they have become an important point of reference for a number of other disciplines – philosophy, political and ethical sciences, theology and historical studies. The phenomenon described by Milgram, highlighting the power of an arranged situation and its effect on urging a person to do despicable and morally contemptible things, pointed to a very important fact. According to Milgram, it suffices to create appropriate circumstances to make the so-called “ordinary people” electrocute (sometimes lethally) a completely innocent person. A person who, just like they, agreed to participate in a psychological experiment, whose only fault was that he/she was unable to memorise a set of bizarre words or syllables.

It must be emphasised though, that Milgram's experiments as well as the entire trend of studies of obedience cannot be summarised by stating that “people are bad”. “People are capable of doing bad things if urged by the circumstances of the situation” would be a more suitable conclusion. Yet, if their behaviour is to a large extent a result of the situation, the following question could be formulated: is it possible to arrange a situation, which would make people disobedient? Or, at least, less obedient?

Thanks to the grant from the National Research Centre (NCN), Professor Dariusz Doliński from the Wrocław Faculty of Psychology at SWPS University will examine the underlying mechanism of thoughtless obedience observed by Milgram and his followers. Secondly, and even more importantly, the research team will learn what to do, in order to reduce the level of obedience. This seems to be an extremely important problem in the contemporary world threatened with extremisms.

Somapower and microphysics of emancipation: toward a culture of liberation

In 1999, the Chinese Communist Government began to crackdown on Falun Gong, an organization that was a cross between a religious sect and a corporeal practices healing movement. What was characteristic of Falun Gong was that the movement had never questioned the existing power and instead it promoted well-being through physical exercise and spiritual meditation. Similar organizations by no means have been specific to the East. Similar tendencies have also been observed in the West. Such organizations become popular among people who are oppressed and marginalized, providing them with some level of independence and at least an illusory change of status.

Professor Koczanowicz will research how this type of movements can be conceptualized in the humanities and social sciences. The difficulty is that they are located at the intersection of two important, but never adequately researched, theoretical fields: the body as a vehicle of social critique and the relation between everyday life and politics.

Thanks to the grant from the National Research Centre (NCN), Professor Leszek Koczanowicz from the Wrocław Faculty of Psychology at SWPS University will show how microphysics of emancipation can emerge from everyday cultural practices, especially corporeal performance and in turn how they would transform cultural landscape of a society, which can lead to political changes in the direction of liberation.

Consent as an event in labor law

The terms "legal event" or "legal fact" are legal terms that enable the analysis of social relations governed by law. In contemporary law theory,legal facts are divided into conventional events and other events. Conventional activities make sense only in the area of law, they are activities designed by law and the law indicates how they should be carried out. Other legal events are facts that exist independently of law, but the law attributes a specific meaning to them. For example, the death of a person in an employment relationship results in the termination of that relationship. In some areas of law, descriptions and analysis of legal events occurring in them are made. In the field of labor law, this topic has rarely been dealt with, and if so, it was primarily for specific types of events, such as those causing the termination of the employment relationship. So far, general studies on this subject show that there is a need for theoretical research on undescribed types of legal events, in particular the "consents" mutually granted by the parties to an employment relationship, collective labor law bodies and/or persons that do not belong to the category of labor law.

In some cases, the "consent" takes a form of a legal action, in other cases - an action similar to a legal action, to an administrative act (e.g. Article 3045) or to a court action (Article 22 § 3 of the Code). Under the uniform notion of "consent", there appear to be legal facts different in nature. They require the systematization and generalization of description which will enable an assessment of how coherently the term is used by the legislature and to what extent the consent has the same legal specificity in similar cases.

Therefore, the aim of the project is, firstly, to select the cases of consent in the current labor law. Secondly, to establish the legal nature of individual "consent" cases with regard to the legal status of the entity authorized by the legislature to grant it. Thirdly, the role of "consent" will be assessed as an instrument shaping the content and sometimes legalizing the behavior of individual and collective employment relationships. The purpose of the project is also to describe the model (or models) of consent as a specific type of conventional action in the context of individual or collective labor law.

Thanks to the grant from the National Research Centre (NCN), Associate Professor Monika Lewandowicz-Machnikowska from the Wrocław Faculty of Law and Communication at SWPS University will provide a generalized answer to the question: How should a model or models of actions in granting consent be formed as a specific type of activity in labor law and how can thelegislator use this instrument to shape labor law relations?

Supporting older adults to make more optimal choices in complex decision tasks involved in e-commerce

The demographics of developed societies have a strong and durable trend: ageing. In 2030, 25% of citizens in the USA or in the EU will reach the of age 60+. Over 20% will be older than 65 years. In some countries, such as Japan, this trend is even stronger: one citizen in three will be at least 60 years old in 2030. In Poland, the percentage of 60+ citizens in 2030 will reach 28,9%. Moreover, demographic forecasts are usually extremely stable and accurate.

For these reasons, policy makers, for example in the EU, have long recognized the problem of ageing societies. This has resulted in several initiatives, programs, and efforts to improve the well-being of senior citizens. The UN Global Age Watch shows how much well-being of senior citizens differs from country to country. Poland has the 32nd position in this ranking (2015), close to the countries in Latin America. Japan and USA are 8th and 9th; the leading countries are Switzerland, the Scandinavian countries, and Germany.

In the 21st century, the Web has become intertwined with human societies, and almost any social or personal activity, such as work, leisure, learning, banking, and shopping, can take place on the Web. In particular, e-commerce is a large and growing part of the economy. Online shopping (B2C e-commerce) generates from 10% (China) to 25% of commerce turnover in various countries. There is still a large potential for growth: from 2012 to 2013, the online shopping market has grown by double-digit rates in the USA (12%), the UK (13%), Germany (12%), Japan (10%), and 64% in China.

However, e-commerce sites are usually designed with the goal of maximizing revenue, and not from the point of view of special needs of customers. This concerns older consumers as well. These two trends, i.e. the ageing of societies and the growth of e-commerce, point to the need of special consideration when designing e-commerce sites and services for older consumers. Such special services can become part of the growing “silver economy”, an economy of services and markets dedicated to the needs of older consumers.

Thanks to the grant from the National Research Centre (NCN), Professor Grzegorz Sędek from the Warsaw Faculty of Psychology at SWPS University will help to evaluate and test new proposals of adaptive interfaces or recommendation algorithms for older consumers and to build an experimental e-commerce platform. This platform will be used to test the cognitive abilities of older consumers who will buy virtual products using a virtual currency. New proposed solutions and support methods will be implemented in the platform. Their effects on purchasing decisions of older consumers will be evaluated experimentally. The project could have a global impact on improving the silver economy and older consumer’s satisfaction and well-being.

Whom to trust? Cognitive determinants of learning from others 

Having to answer memory questions is a common occurrence in everyday life. When a question is asked, the most obvious action is to try to retrieve the answer to the question from one’s own memory. However, memory is not infallible – on the contrary, it is often susceptible to forgetting and distortions. When memory fails, it stands to reason that people might rely on other sources of information to answer memory questions. For example, they might refer to their calendar, check the Internet – or ask another person. It is this last case that will be investigated in the present project.

When deciding whether to make use of another person’s memory, it would be good to know how reliable this person’s memory typically is: in other words, can we trust this person’s memory? It is perhaps not a difficult question when the other person is well known to us – for example, a partner, a close friend, or a family member. In such a case, we can refer to our previous experiences with this person’s memories. For example, if you know that your mother remembers the details of your childhood very well, you can safely assume that whatever she remembers about your 10th birthday is likely to be accurate. What happens, however, if the only person who can help you answer a memory question is someone you do not know well? Nowadays, this situation is becoming increasingly common, given the growing importance of the online life, where anonymity is often one of the primary features of social interactions. How do you decide whether the memory of a stranger is reliable? Do you actually act on this information and rely on the memories of those whom you believe to be credible, while disregarding the information from people, whose memories seem to be wrong?

Thanks to the grant from the National Research Centre (NCN), Katarzyna Zawadzka, Ph.D., from the Warsaw Faculty of Psychology at SWPS University will help to provide a comprehensive overview of what helps one behave adaptively in memory tasks, benefitting from social learning of accurate new information without the costs associated with learning errors. In addition to theoretical advances, understanding what determines social learning from initially unknown sources will, in the long run, have important practical implications, for example helping establish guidelines for creating effective and memorable educational campaigns.

The role of risk and protective factors in assessing and monitoring the probability of committing criminal offences by offenders detained for treatment and incarcerated persons

The aims of the proposed study concentrate on the rules and procedures for assessing the probability of committing a prohibited act in clinical and prison population, as well as on the accuracy and reliability of these assessments. Such aims stem from the need to provide the court experts, who assess the risk of criminal violence, with a solid foundation, supported by scientific evidence, for forming opinions on the need for applying treatment and security measures, or on decisions about the mode of executing custodial sentences, which take into account predictions about social and criminological outcomes. More precisely, the role of risk and protective factors in assessing and monitoring the probability of committing criminal offences by offenders detained for treatment and by offenders serving prison sentences will be analyzed.

The reasons for addressing the research problem stem from the analysis of Polish literature on the circumstances of violence and crime, which reveals a clear need for developing and implementing effective, objective, and accurate procedures for assessing the probability of risk and violence. Experts in criminal law also point to the current gap between the expectations of the legislators and the possibilities of diagnosticians, limited by the unavailability on the Polish market of advanced instruments for accurate risk assessment of violence. Such predictions are at the core of the 2013 Act on procedures for dealing with persons with mental disorders who pose a threat to the lives, health or sexual freedom of other persons, which ties the choice of treatment and security measures, preventive surveillance, or isolating the offender at the National Centre for the Prevention of Antisocial Behavior to the value of this probability.

Thanks to the grant from the National Research Centre (NCN), Professor Józef Gierowski from the Katowice Faculty of Psychology at SWPS University will study the role of risk and protective factors in assessing and monitoring the probability of committing criminal offences by offenders detained for treatment and by offenders serving prison sentences will be analyzed. The risk factors identified in the thirty years of application of instruments based on the SPJ model (notably the HCR-20) have significantly improved procedures of violence risk assessment. They have also allowed for early medical and psychological interventions aimed at halting the progress of the process of increasing social disadaptation of offenders. They point to the areas, factors, and circumstances, which must be considered in any diagnosis and predictions about treatment and future offences. Knowledge of those factors is also useful for court experts in psychology, psychiatry and sexology, as well as the court, who undoubtedly should have insight into the mental processes behind violence, and into factors which facilitate reoffending.

Looking for mediators and moderators of attitude-driven affects as factors shaping moral character attributions

Moral judgments are a crucial part of social life. Based on moral judgments we decide who deserves our trust, whom we should avoid, what behaviors are rewarded and which of them we should punish. We believe in the objectiveness of our moral compass what sometimes leads to controversy and moral disagreement. One of the main reasons why societies often disagree about morality is a common belief about rational nature of moral judgments, which science does not confirm. Within two last decades, scholars interested in moral psychology discovered that people rather produce moral judgments based on fast and automatic intuitions than rational and controlled reasoning. For example, moral cognition research showed that moral judgments arise in approximately 250 milliseconds and even then when we are not able to explain them. Developmental psychologists proved that babies at the age of 3 months, who do not have any lingual skills, can distinguish good protagonist (the helping one) from the bad one (the hindering one). It does not mean that peoples’ moral judgments are based only on intuitions. We can use deliberative processes however it occurs only in friendly conditions – when the individual is both motivated to engage in and capable of conscious responding.

Intuitive and automatic nature of moral judgments makes them prone to biases. For example, people influenced by disgust cast harsher moral judgments, even though they are not aware what guided their decisions. Recently, scholars showed that self-interest involvement: I profit from another person dishonest behavior; also, biases moral judgment. When unethical actions aid perceiver’s interests, people judge fraudster action in a more lenient way. What is more interesting, interpersonal attractiveness (liking) explained why self-interests bias moral judgments. It turned out, that when a cheater is also acting in the name of our interests we like him or her more than when an individual is acting selfish, and this feeling biases our moral perception. Another line of studies showed that similarity-dissimilarity of beliefs, mere exposure, and facial mimicry influenced judgments of moral character measured in several ways. These influences were strongly and entirely mediated by changes in liking of the judged persons, suggesting that attitudinal influences lay at the core of moral character perceptions. Interestingly, among the research on moral judgments, only discrete emotions received substantial attention as a source of moral intuitions, while attitudes and moods were utterly ignored. The present project addressed this critical gap in knowledge by focusing on attitude-driven affect and moods as a factor shaping moral character attributions. Additionally, we will indicate the moderators which can hinder or bolster the influence of attitudes and moods on moral judgments and test the mediators of this relationship. We also want to clarify whether moods like emotions can distort moral judgments. These answers are relevant, because moral judgments are crucial for everyday situations and, as recent studies showed, they are also surprisingly frequent. For almost 13 000 daily events reported by participants, 29% of them were somehow related to morality.

Thanks to the grant from the National Research Centre (NCN), Konrad Bocian, Ph.D. from the Sopot Faculty of Psychology at SWPS University will test potential moderators of attitudes influence on attributions of moral character. The proposed moderators are moral identity; breaking the moral foundation of care/harm; manipulation order; pointing the source of attitude; cognitive load and time pressure. The presented project will fill the critical gap in the psychology of moral judgments by showing its affective and subjective nature, therefore bringing back a reason to moral disagreements. In turn, we may make such disagreements less subjective, and thereby less disruptive for the society.

Employment of a Returning Researcher Katarzyna Zawadzka and Members of her Project Team

Polish Returns Program financed by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) enables Polish scientists to return to their native country and take up employment in Polish higher education institutions or research units. Thanks to this program Polish higher education institutions and research centers have an opportunity to employ specialists with international experience and conduct world-class research.

Thanks to the grant from NAWA, Katarzyna Zawadzka, Ph.D. will be employed by the Warsaw Faculty of Psychology at SWPS University and will form a research team.

Research Projects Awarded in the Last Edition of the NCN and NAWA Competitions

Professor Dariusz Doliński
Wrocław Faculty of Psychology

  • Avoidance - avoidance conflict and obedience in the Milgram paradigm
  • Competition: OPUS 15
  • Grant amount: PLN 697,740

Professor Leszek Koczanowicz
Wrocław Faculty of Psychology

  • Somapower and microphysics of emancipation: toward a culture of liberation
  • Competition: OPUS 15
  • Grant amount: PLN 211,820

Associate Professor Monika Lewandowicz-Machnikowska
Faculty of Law and Communication in Wrocław

  • Consent as an event in labor law
  • Competition: OPUS 15
  • Grant amount: PLN 247,240

Professor Grzegorz Sędek
Warsaw Faculty of Psychology

  • Supporting older adults to make more optimal choices in complex decision tasks involved in e-commerce
  • Competition: OPUS 15
  • Grant amount: PLN 1,023,400

Dr. Katarzyna Zawadzka
Warsaw Faculty of Psychology

  • Whom to trust? Cognitive determinants of learning from others
  • Competition: OPUS 15
  • Grant amount: PLN 1,203,300

Professor Józefowi Gierowskiemu
Katowice Faculty of Psychology

  • The role of risk and protective factors in assessing and monitoring the probability of committing criminal offences by offenders detained for treatment and incarcerated persons
  • Competition: OPUS 15
  • Grant amount: PLN 986,932

Dr. Bocian Konrad
Sopot Faculty of Psychology

  • Looking for mediators and moderators of attitude-driven affects as factors shaping moral character attributions
  • Competition: OPUS 15
  • Grant amount: 506 700 zł

Dr. Katarzyna Zawadzka
Warsaw Faculty of Psychology

  • Employment of a Returning Researcher Katarzyna Zawadzka and Members of her Project Team
  • Competition: NAWA 1
  • Grant amount: PLN 1,715,000

Currently, researchers from SWPS University are conducting 79 projects, worth close to PLN 43.5M. Over the past year, 38 new projects received funding worth PLN 38M. We owe this success to the effectiveness of our Office for Research and the commitment of our scientists.

Piotr Matejek, Director of the Office for Research



NCN and NAWA Competitions

PRELUDIUM is a funding opportunity intended for pre-doctoral researchers about to embark on their scientific career. OPUS is a funding opportunity intended for a wide range of applicants. The research proposal submitted under this scheme may include the purchase or construction of research equipment. POLISH RETURNS program enables Polish scientists to return to their native country and take up employment in Polish higher education institutions or research centers. The programme creates optimal conditions for returning scientists to conduct world-class research in Poland.

Other Research Funding Sources

The National Science Centre is not the only funding source supporting research at SWPS University. The university receives grants from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Foundation for Polish Science, and The National Centre for Research and Development. SWPS University conducts over 300 research projects, annually.

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Rankings & Recognition

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Stan Maes Early Career Award for Dr. Dominika Kwaśnicka

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Grants 26-08-2019

Our doctoral students awarded grants from NCN

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Grants 23-08-2019

Dr. Konrad Bocian awarded grant from EASP

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Awards & Recognition 24-07-2019

SWPS University recognized for commitment to changemaking

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Grants 17-07-2019

SWPS Researchers Receive Over 4M in Grants from NCN

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Awards & Recognition 08-07-2019

Our Law Students in Finals of CDRC VIENNA Competition

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Awards & Recognition 04-04-2019

Our Management and Leadership Program Awarded Ashoka J2CC

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Grants 27-02-2019

NCN Grants Close to PLN 4.5M to Our Researchers

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Awards & Recognition 21-01-2019

Faculties in Katowice and Poznań gain right to grant doctoral degrees

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Awards & Recognition 13-12-2018

Elsevier Research Impact Leader Award for SWPS University

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Awards & Recognition 10-12-2018

SWPS University Awarded 2018 Silver Paper Clip for Educational Channel

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Grants 27-11-2018

SWPS University Researchers Receive PLN 6.5M in Research Grants

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Grants 24-05-2018

SWPS University Receives PLN 4.3M in Research Grants from NCN

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Grants 19-02-2018

SWPS University Receives PLN 4.5M in Research Grants from NCN

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Awards & Recognition 01-02-2018

Aigerim Balkhashbayeva Wins Interstudent 2018 Award

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Awards & Recognition 04-12-2017

Golden Paper Clip Award for SWPS University’s YouTube Channel

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Grants 20-11-2017

SWPS University Receives PLN 1.3M in Research Grants from NCN

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Awards & Recognition 14-11-2017

Graduates of SOF Win Prestigious Prize in Dubai

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Grants 31-10-2017

Professor Wojciszke Awarded Beethoven 2 Research Grant

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Grants 27-07-2017

Among Top Recipients of Grants from the National Science Centre

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Awards & Recognition 05-06-2017

Our Students Win 2nd Place in Enactus Competition

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Awards & Recognition 01-06-2017

Prof. Wiesław Godzic on FIPRESCI Jury at Moscow Film Festival 2017

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Awards & Recognition 27-02-2017

School of Form Awarded at 2017 London Fashion Week

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Awards & Recognition 07-11-2016

Polish Nobel Prize for Professor Bogdan Wojciszke

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Awards & Recognition 13-10-2016

Teofrast Superstar Award for Professor Andrzej Eliasz

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Awards & Recognition 30-09-2016

Piotr Voelkel - Visionary of Polish Business

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Awards & Recognition 27-06-2016

SWPS YOUTUBE LEARNING CHANNEL REACHES 1M VIEWS

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Awards & Recognition 22-06-2016

Agnieszka Kruszewska joins editorial board of Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan

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Awards & Recognition 13-06-2016

Chinese Book Center Opens at SWPS University

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Awards & Recognition 01-06-2016

HR Excellence in Research - Our Commitment to Researchers

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Awards & Recognition 16-04-2016

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Awards & Recognition 25-01-2016

SWPS University Academics Awarded Elsevier Certificates

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