Amir Chaudhry

thoughts, comments & general ramblings

Collective Intelligence in Human Groups

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

Anita Williams Woolley,1,* Christopher F. Chabris,2,3 Alexander Pentland,3,4 Nada Hashmi,3,5 Thomas W. Malone3,5

Psychologists have repeatedly shown that a single statistical factor—often called “general intelligence”—emerges from the correlations among people’s performance on a wide variety of cognitive tasks. But no one has systematically examined whether a similar kind of “collective intelligence” exists for groups of people. In two studies with 699 individuals, working in groups of two to five, we find converging evidence of a general collective intelligence factor that explains a group’s performance on a wide variety of tasks. This “c factor” is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.

1. Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. 2. Union College, Schenectady, NY 12308, USA. 3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Collective Intelligence, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA. 4. MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. 5. MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.


This sounds like great work and it’s one of the things I wanted to study just before I started my PhD. Interesting to see that performance correlates with social sensitivity as well as the proportion of females in the group. I’d be very interested to know exactly what kinds of tasks the teams were asked to perform.

I’ll have to wait till I’m next on campus before I can download the paper itself.

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