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 had systematically examined whether a similar kind of “collective intelligence” exists for groups of people. In this work, we have found 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 it 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.
Our continuing work is investigating the factors that affect the collective intelligence of a group, such as its size, the electronic collaboration tools it uses, and the gender mix of its members.
Woolley, A. W., Chabris, C. F., Pentland, A., Hashmi, N., & Malone, T. W. Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups, Science, 29 October 2010, 330 (6004), 686-688; Published online 30 September 2010 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1193147]
Woolley, A., & Malone, T. Defend your research: What makes a team smarter? More women, Harvard Business Review, June 2011, 89 (6): 32-33
Bear, J. B., & Woolley, A. W. (2011) The role of gender in team collaboration and performance. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 36(2), 146-153
Aggarwal, I., & Woolley, A.W. (2012) Two perspectives on intellectual capital and innovation in teams: Collective intelligence and cognitive diversity. In C. Mukhopadyay (Ed.), Driving the economy through innovation and entrepreneurship (pp. 495-502). Bangalore: Springer
Engel, D., Woolley, A. W., Jing, L. X., Chabris, C. F., & Malone, T. W. (2014) Theory of mind predicts collective intelligence. Proceedings of Collective Intelligence 2014, Cambridge, MA.
Woolley, A. W., Aggarwal, I., & Malone, T. W. (in press. Collective intelligence in teams and organizations. In T. W. Malone & M. S. Bernstein (Eds.), The handbook of collective intelligence. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Engel, D., Woolley, A. W., Jing, L. X., Chabris, C. F., & Malone, T. W. (2014) Reading the mind in the eyes or reading between the lines? Theory of Mind predicts effective collaboration equally well online and face-to-face. PLOS One 9(12). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115212
Engel, D., Woolley, A. W., Aggarwal, I., Chabris, C. F., Takahashi, M., Nemoto, K., Kaiser, C., Kim, Y. J., & Malone, T. W. (2015) Collective intelligence in computer-mediated collaboration emerges in different contexts and cultures. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2015), Seoul, Korea.
Woolley, A. W., Aggarwal, I., & Malone, T. W. (2015). Collective intelligence and group performance. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24, 420-424. doi:10.1177/0963721415599543.
Press and other media
This research has been featured in over 30 print and online publications around the world. A sample of these media mentions is shown below and a comprehensive list is here.
· Science, 10/1/10, Social savvy boosts the collective intelligence of groups
· Wall Street Journal, 10/9/10, Smart Groups & Women
· Albany Times Union, 10/11/2010, You're smart, they're smart, it didn't work
· Pittsburgh Post Gazette.com, 1/10/11, Groups produce collective intelligence, study says
· The New York Times, The Opinion Pages, 1/17/11, Amy Chua is a Wimp
· The New York Times, The Opinion Pages, 3/17/11, Social Science Palooza II
· CCI research featured in Doonesbury comic strip
· Boston Globe, 12/19/10, Group IQ
· Cacioppo, J. T., & Freberg, L. A. (2013). Discovering psychology: The science of the mind. Boston: Cengage. (Boxed summary of our research was included in this introductory psychology textbook.)
· The Psych Report, 1/18/2014, MIT Crowdsources the Next Great (Free) IQ Test
· Fortune, 9/18/2014, Women Make Groups Smarter
· Rock, Paper, Shotgun (popular gaming blog), 11/25/2014, Riot Teams Up With MIT To Investigate.. Uh.. Teams
· EdTech (education technology blog), 12/3/2014, MIT Launches Study of Online Gaming’s Biggest Community
· The New York Times, 1/16/2015, Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others
· The Atlantic, 1/18/2015, The Secret to Smart Groups Isn't Smart People - It's Women
· NPR On Point, 1/27/2015, Building a Smarter Team
· Nature News, 3/30/2016, Can a video game company tame toxic behaviour?
· The New York Times Magazine, 2/28/2016, What Google Learned from its Quest to Build the Perfect Team
Collective Intelligence in the Performance of Human Groups, Anita Williams Woolley, National Research Council Public Workshop, April 3-4, 2013.
Why interpersonal skills are more important that you think, Thomas W Malone, Techonomy Conference, Tucson, AZ, November, 13, 2013
We have developed an online battery of collective intelligence tests. To see what the battery looks like, click here
Young Ji Kim
Other faculty collaborators
Ishani Aggarwal (Tilburg University)