Measuring Collective Intelligence

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.

Kim, Y. J.*, Engel, D.*, Woolley, A. W., Lin, J., McArthur, N., & Malone, T. W. (2017) What makes a strong team? Using collective intelligence to predict performance of teams in League of Legends. Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2017). (*authors contributed equally) – Research featured on Nature News.

Chikersal, P., Tomprou, M., Kim, Y. J., Woolley, A. W., & Dabbish, L. (2017)
Deep structures of collaboration: Physiological correlates of collective intelligence and group satisfaction. Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2017).Contests

Matrix Reasoning Challenge

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.



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

Principal Investigators
Thomas W. Malone
Anita Woolley (Carnegie Mellon University)
Christopher Chabris (Union College)

Postdoctoral Associate
Young Ji Kim

Graduate Students
Nada Hashmi

Other faculty collaborators
Ishani Aggarwal (Tilburg University)

Project Alumni
David Engel
Lisa Jing
Yiftach Nagar