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.
ideology group decision-making coordination heterogeneous types