Agreement and disagreement in group deliberation: Effects on deliberation satisfaction, future engagement, and decision legitimacy

Jenifer Stromer-Galley, Peter Muhlberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


While research on democratic deliberation has burgeoned, little systematic work has been done on the effects of the communication content of deliberations. We examine how expressions of agreement and disagreement during online deliberation affect participants' evaluations of their experience, including satisfaction, reevaluation of opinions, and expected future participation. The effects of these evaluations on perceived legitimacy and opinion ambivalence also are considered. Several alternative hypotheses are entertained, including avoidance, in which high disagreement reduces evaluations; reevaluation, in which high disagreement enhances evaluations; sociability, in which high agreement enhances evaluations; balance, which suggests that a balance of agreement and disagreement would enhance evaluations; and disequilibrium, which indicates that high agreement and low disagreement and the reverse yield good evaluations. The hypotheses are tested with survey data and a discussion content analysis of a representative sample of 179 individuals who participated in a deliberation experiment. Findings indicate that deliberation evaluations are important for decision legitimacy and ambivalence. Also, the sociability hypothesis is strongly confirmed for satisfaction. The disequilibrium hypothesis is confirmed for future engagement. The avoidance hypothesis is not supported, contesting the prevalent view that people seek to avoid political disagreements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-192
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Agreement
  • Attitude strength
  • Deliberation
  • Deliberation satisfaction
  • Political disagreement
  • Political motivation
  • Stealth democracy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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