Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Leaders as role models and ‘belief managers’ in social dilemmas


Professor, Psychology of Economic Decision Making


We investigate the link between leadership, beliefs and pro-social behavior in social dilemmas. This link is interesting because field evidence suggests that people's behavior in domains like charitable giving, tax evasion, corporate culture and corruption is influenced by leaders (CEOs, politicians) and beliefs about others’ behavior. Our framework is a repeated experimental public goods game with and without a leader who makes a contribution to the public good before others (the followers). We find that leaders strongly shape their followers’ initial beliefs and contributions. In later rounds, followers put more weight on other followers’ past behavior than on the leader's current action. This creates a path dependency the leader can hardly correct. We discuss the implications for understanding belief effects in naturally occurring situations.


Gächter, S., & Renner, E. (2018). Leaders as role models and ‘belief managers’ in social dilemmas. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 154, 321-334.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 2, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 23, 2018
Publication Date 2018-10
Deposit Date Aug 28, 2018
Publicly Available Date Aug 28, 2018
Journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Print ISSN 0167-2681
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 154
Pages 321-334
Keywords Economics and Econometrics; Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations