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Study Validates Factors That Enhance the Intelligence of a Group

October 4, 2010

Tendency to cooperate effectively is linked to the number of women in a group

According to new study co-authored by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Union College, group intelligence may not be quantified as the sum or average of the cognitive abilities of its members.

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 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.

Image Caption: A team working on one of the tasks used in the study. Teams were asked to assemble complicated Lego® structures based on detailed instructions. Teams were randomly assembled by soliciting participation via Craig’s List. Credit: MIT

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