The Malta Chamber of Psychologists (MCP) recently hosted the second event in its series of forums, this time centred on the theme of the ‘Psychology of Corruption’.

The panel was comprised of Paul Daniel Micallef, clinical psychologist and MCP council member; Maria Pisani, senior lecturer, Department of Youth & Community Studies; George Vital Zammit, senior lecturer at the Department of Public Policy; Kevin Sammut Henwood, principal forensic psychologist; and Mark Laurence Zammit, journalist, Times of Malta.

Following the panel presentations, attendees participated in an interactive discussion moderated by Gottfried Catania, head of the Department of Psychology and senior lecturer at the University of Malta.

Micallef emphasised the obligation to address corruption and expressed MCP’s commitment to bringing attention to this important issue. He referenced President Miriam Spiteri Debono’s recent inaugural speech, highlighting how the relentless pursuit of wealth often leads to various forms of corruption and the pursuer becomes indifferent to the suffering they may directly or indirectly cause others. Micallef also stressed the importance of safeguarding the integrity and authority of public servants, with the potential risk of public servants becoming political servants.

Pisani addressed the pervasive “culture of patronage” which is prevalent in Malta, explaining that patronage involves the right to control access to privileges, which fosters corruption.

She delved into the psychological mechanisms that contribute to a culture of corruption, and cited research indicating that weak institutions and cultural context can lead to economic disadvantages and may impair individual intrinsic honesty considered crucial for societal functioning.

In his intervention, Vital Zammit focused on the silence of public intellectuals in Malta, arguing that while intellectuals do not have a monopoly on culture, values or truth, they have a responsibility to denounce what they see as destructive in society.

He referred to Chomsky’s seminal essay of 1967 on the ‘Responsibility of Intellectuals’ and towards the end suggested eight possible reasons of why public intellectuals resort to silence.

Sammut Henwood provided a compelling overview of the links between Malta’s history, culture and corruption, demonstrating that such behaviours are deeply rooted in the country’s cultural fabric. He contended that while some believe that corruption is an inherent part of human nature, he argued that it is, in fact, a rational choice.

Journalist Zammit shared his insights into how political leadership and the protection that it affords can foster corruption. Drawing from his day-to-day journalistic assignments, he highlighted how corruption undermines public trust. He, however, questioned whether its effects can be felt once people’s lives are not directly impacted by it.

The forum concluded with an engaging discussion, leaving participants with much to consider about the psychological underpinnings of corruption and the ways to combat it.

This event was open to both MCP members and the general public. The next forum organised by the MCP will focus on the ‘Psychology of Addiction’ and will be held on September 13. More information will be made available in the coming weeks.

The main objective of the MCP is to act as a professional body for the discipline of psychology in Malta and as a representative body for psychologists practising in Malta. It also aims to advance the practice of psychology in Malta and to make psychology accessible to all.

The MCP prioritises the promotion of psychologists’ and psychology graduates’ general welfare. The chamber serves as a common platform for psychologists and psychology graduates practising in the Maltese Islands. As a registered union, the chamber works diligently towards the maintenance and improvement of psychologists’ and psychology graduates’ conditions of work.

For more information and to become a member, visit MCP’s website or Facebook page.

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