YANSS 111 – Some groups are smarter than others, and psychologists want to understand why

When it comes to group activities — projects that require teams of people to work on a series of concrete tasks to reach a tangible goal — what do you think is the most important quality that group members should possess? Should they be smart? Should they be assertive? Should they nominate a leader or divide into pairs?

This is the question that psychologist Christopher Chabris has been pondering for several years now. He believes the answer is collective intelligence.

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Chabris and his colleagues wondered,  if you were to treat a team of people as a single entity, and then measure that entity’s intelligence using the same wide array of tasks psychologists use to measure individual IQ, what would make one group score higher than another?

At first, like most people, he thought that if you wanted to build a team in such a way that you maximized its overall intelligence, you would simply stack it with high-IQ brainiacs. If not smart people, perhaps you would populate it with natural leaders. But his team’s research into collective intelligence suggests that none of these approaches would work.

According to Chabris, to create a team that is collectively intelligent, you likely need to focus on three specific factors that he and his colleagues have identified in their research, and in this episode of the You Are Not So Smart podcast, he will tell you all about them and why they seem to matter more than anything else.



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Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups

Reading the Mind in the Eyes or Reading between the Lines? Theory of Mind Predicts Collective Intelligence Equally Well Online and Face-To-Face

Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

Defend Your Research: What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women

Adaptation of Teams in Response to Unforeseen Change: Effects of Goal Difficulty and Team Composition in Terms of Cognitive Ability and Goal Orientation.

MIT Center for Collective Intelligence

Overview of Challenges to this Research 

Smart Groups of Smart People: Evidence for IQ as the Origin of Collective Intelligence in the Performance of Human Groups

Effects of crew composition on crew performance: Does the whole equal the sum of its parts?

Do Smarter Teams Do Better? A Meta-Analysis of Cognitive Ability and Team Performance

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