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New Study Validates Factors That Enhance the Intelligence of a Group

Photo of a a team working on one of the tasks used in the study involving Legos.A team working on one of the tasks used in the study involving detailed instructions and Legos®.
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October 1, 2010

Watch a video of lead author Anita Woolley describing the study’s findings, a video of Thomas Malone’s presentation at the 2010 World Economic Forum, or a video of Thomas Malone explaining group intelligence.

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.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Jennifer Hirsch, MIT (617) 253-1682 jfhirsch@mit.edu
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF (703) 292-8311 lzgorski@nsf.gov
Mark D. Burd, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business (412) 268-3486 mdburd@andrew.cmu.edu

Principal Investigators
Anita Williams Woolley, Carnegie Mellon University (412) 268-2287 awoolley@cmu.edu

Co-Investigators
Thomas W. Malone, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence 617-253-6843 malone@mit.edu

Related Websites
Science: Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/science.1193147
CMU News Release: http://www.cmu.edu/news/
MIT News Release: http://web.mit.edu/press/2010/collective-intel.html

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2010, its budget is about $6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/


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