Working in group? You’ll want more women in your team! Females boost collective intelligence more than men, study finds

  • Researcher ran machine learning algorithms over 22 studies on group dynamics
  • They explored ‘collective intelligence’ and what can predict success or failure 
  • Collective intelligence is a measure of a group ability to work together on issues 
  • The team say more females, a more diverse group and social perceptiveness matter more than the intelligence or skill of any individual member of a group 

Having more women in a team or group can boost the overall ‘collective intelligence’ for decision making, when compared to a male dominated group, study reveals. 

Researchers from Pennsylvania’s Carnegie Mellon University examined 22 studies covering 5,349 individuals engaged in group and individual activities.

The team found that individual skill, group gender composition, and group collaboration were all predictors of collective intelligence, or the ability of a group to work together and solve a range of problems that vary in complexity. 

The research, that involved running machine learning algorithms over multiple large sets of data, revealed that the success of a group activity could be better predicted using collective intelligence measures than on individual member skill.

These collective measures included social perceptiveness of individual members, group composition, particularly female proportion and age diversity, and group size.

Having more women in a team or group can boost the overall ‘collective intelligence’ for decision making, when compared to a male dominated group, study reveals. Stock image

WHAT IS COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE? 

Collective Intelligence (CI) is a measure of the ability of a group to work together and solve a range of problems that vary in complexity. 

It is a ‘shared intelligence’ emerging from collaboration and competition between members of a team.

The phenomenon comes as a result of an effort to reach a consensus decision on a project or problem. 

Recent studies have shown that the overall make-up of a group matter more in success than an individual’s skill or ability within the group.

Having more females or people with higher social perceptiveness also improved the success rate. 

In order to address issues ranging from climate change to developing complex technologies and curing diseases, science relies on collective intelligence.

The data demonstrated that group collaboration processes were about twice as important for predicting CI than individual skill.

They found that group composition, including the proportion of women in a group and group member social perceptiveness, are also significant predictors of CI. 

‘This paper introduces some computational metrics for evaluating collaboration processes that could be foundational for studying collaboration moving forward,’ said Anita Williams Woolley, study co-author.

Williams Woolley added that they continue to find that having more women in the group raises the overall level of collective intelligence. 

The team discovered that this improvement in collection intelligence applied regardless of whether the collaboration was face-to-face or online. 

In earlier research, the same team found that a group’s ability to perform a wide range of tasks could be predicted by a single statistical factor – that is where they came up with the concept of collective intelligence. 

In follow up work, by this team and others, experts found that this CI factor was weakly linked to individual intelligence levels, but strongly linked to social sensitivity and the number of women in any group. 

For this new study, using machine learning techniques, Woolley and colleagues determined the relative importance of different variables for predicting CI.

They observed that group collaboration process measures were about twice as important as individual member skill.

Other important predictors were social perceptiveness, group composition (particularly female proportion and age diversity) and group size.

The team discovered that this improvement in collection intelligence applied regardless of whether the collaboration was face-to-face or online. Stock image

The research advances the science of collective performance both conceptually and methodologically. 

By using a metric of collective intelligence based on a variety of tasks, a group’s score should predict future performance in a broader range of settings. 

The authors say that by having a robust measure of a group’s capability to work together can help managers assemble groups for high collective intelligence.

The findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

‘INTELLIGENCE QUOTIENT’ (IQ) IS A MEASURE OF MENTAL ABILITY

IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient and it is used to measure mental ability.

The abbreviation ‘IQ’ was first coined by psychologist William Stern to describe the German term Intelligenzquotient.

Historically, IQ is a score achieved by dividing a person’s mental age, obtained with an intelligence test, by their age.

The resulting fraction is then multiplied by 100 to obtain an IQ score.

An IQ of 100 has long been considered the median score.

Because of the way the test results are scaled, a person with an IQ of 60 is not half as intelligent as someone with an IQ of 120.

The arrangement of IQ scores also means that results are ‘normally distributed’, meaning just as many people score either side of the average. 

For example, the same amount of people score 70 as people who score 130.

Although the accuracy of intelligence tests is somewhat disputed, they are still widely used.

For Mensa, the acceptance score requires members to be within the top two per cent of the general population.

Depending on the IQ test, this can require a score of at least 130.

Famous people’s IQ scores: 

  • Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking – 160
  • Donald Trump – 156 
  • Emma Watson – 138  
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger – 135 
  • Nicole Kidman – 132

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