Ideological Motives and Group Decision-Making

59 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2020 Last revised: 12 Feb 2021

See all articles by Florian Engl

Florian Engl

University of Cologne - Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Date Written: February 12, 2021


This paper studies experimentally when and how ideological motives shape outcomes in group decision-making scenarios. Groups play a repeated coordination game in which they can agree on a payoff-dominant or a payoff-dominated but ideologically preferred outcome, or disagree and forego all payoffs. We find that groups which disagree initially are more likely to end up agreeing on the ideologically preferred outcome. We classify subjects into ideologically motivated and payoff motivated types and show that this effect stems from the two types’ differential reaction to disagreements. After disagreements, ideologically motivated types are more committed and steer the group towards their preferred outcome. Heterogeneous groups disagree more often and, thus, foster agreements on the ideologically motivated outcome. Our treatments show that, because of this mechanism, large groups are more likely to implement the ideologically preferred outcome than small groups. Furthermore, we show that individual ideological commitment is stronger when it targets the prevention of an outcome in conflict with the ideology than when it targets the implementation of an outcome aligned with the ideology. Theoretically, we study whether fixed or malleable ideological preferences can explain our results.

Keywords: ideology, group decision-making, coordination, heterogeneous types

JEL Classification: C92, D01, D70, D91

Suggested Citation

Engl, Florian, Ideological Motives and Group Decision-Making (February 12, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Florian Engl (Contact Author)

University of Cologne - Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences ( email )

Richard-Strauss-Str. 2
Cologne, D-50923

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679

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