Thomas W. Malone, director of MITís Center for Collective Intelligence, puts numbers to what we all knew. Assuming we have been keeping our eyes open.
If itís not just putting a bunch of smart people in a group that makes the group smart, what is it? We looked at bunch of factors you might have thought would affect it: things like the psychological safety of the group, the personality of the group members, et cetera. Most of the things we thought might have affected it turned out not to have any significant effect. But we did find three factors that were significantly correlated with the collective intelligence of the group.
The first was the average social perceptiveness of the group members. We measured social perceptiveness in this case using a test developed essentially to measure autism. Itís called the ďReading the Mind and the Eyes Test.Ē It works by letting people look at pictures of other peopleís eyes and try to guess what emotions those people are feeling. People who are good at that work well in groups. When you have a group with a bunch of people like that, the group as a whole is more intelligent.
The second factor we found was the evenness of conversational turn taking. In other words, groups where one person dominated the conversation were, on average, less intelligent than groups where the speaking was more evenly distributed among the different group members.
Finally, and most surprisingly to us, we found that the collective intelligence of the group was significantly correlated with the percentage of women in the group. More women were correlated with a more intelligent group. Interestingly, this last result is not just a diversity result. Itís not just saying that you need groups with some men and some women. It looks like that itís a more or less linear trend. That is, more women are better all the way up to all women.