Group Intelligence

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New Study Validates Factors That Enhance the Intelligence of a Group

Source: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=117795

National Science Foundation

October 1, 2010

When it comes to working in groups, intelligence is more complex and diverse than the sum of its parts. According to a new study co-authored by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Union College, a group's intelligence may not be quantified as the sum or average of the cognitive abilities of its members.

Social scientists have long contended that a measurable level of intelligence in each individual is a predictive measure of that person's ability to fare well on diverse cognitive tasks. This study, however, paints a different picture for predicting successful performance of groups.

By studying small teams of randomly assembled individuals, researchers discovered that groups featuring the right kind of internal dynamics perform well on a wide range of assignments, regardless of the sum or average individual cognitive abilities of the group's members. Further, a group's intelligence--or its ability to complete a series of demanding multi-functional tasks--is positively linked to several factors, such as higher levels of "social sensitivity," a more equal distribution of member participation levels, and the number of women in a group. Watch videos of the researchers discussing their work.

Further, a group's intelligence, or its ability to complete a series of demanding multi-functional tasks, is positively linked to higher levels of "social sensitivity," a more equal distribution of member participation levels, and to the number of women in a group.

Social scientists had long contended that a measurable level of intelligence in each individual person is a predictive measure of an individual's ability to fare well on diverse cognitive tasks.

"Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups" has been accepted for publication in the scientific journal Science and was pre-published online in the Sept. 30 Science Express.

-NSF-