Mechanisms of Mind Series: Collective Intelligence as a Characteristic of Small Groups

GUEST SPEAKER: Christopher Chabris, Psychology Department, Union College

Moderated by Paula Droege, Penn State Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

Much important work is performed by small groups of people who collaborate. This is increasingly true in scientific and academic disciplines. Borrowing from the long tradition of research on individual cognitive ability, which has found that people who perform well on one cognitive task tend to perform well on other tasks, we looked for the same phenomenon in small teams. We found that task performance is indeed correlated across teams, with a general factor explaining about as much of the variance in team performance as it does in individual performance of cognitive tasks. We label this factor “collective intelligence.” We also found that teams with more evenly distributed member contributions, with members who score higher in social intelligence, and with more women, tend to exhibit greater collective intelligence. The collective intelligence of a team predicts how well it will perform over extended periods in complex tasks. In this talk I will review our work on the collective intelligence of small groups and discuss some current and future research projects in this area.

Mechanisms of Mind is a monthly series exploring the cross-disciplinary connections between body and mind.

Registration is not required, but feel free to indicate your interest in attending by visiting the event listing on the ADRI Facebook page.