Link: Collective Intelligence

Per this re­cent pa­per, in­di­vi­d­ual IQ has no sig­nifi­cant cor­re­la­tion with ‘group IQ’ (defined and mea­sured as the groups abil­ity to ac­com­plish var­i­ous tasks); group co­he­sion, mo­ti­va­tion, and satis­fac­tion aren’t ei­ther. The study iden­ti­fied two things that were pos­i­tively cor­re­lated with group IQ: av­er­age so­cial sen­si­tivity and a low var­i­ance in the amount of time each per­son spent speak­ing. (It also found that hav­ing more women im­proved col­lec­tive in­tel­li­gence- be­cause women have bet­ter so­cial sen­si­tivity.)

(The re­main­ing stuff is idle spec­u­la­tion from me, not the pa­per. There’s no ex­per­i­men­tal ev­i­dence what­so­ever back­ing it up.)

One pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion of the con­tri­bu­tion of so­cial sen­si­tivity to­wards col­lec­tive in­tel­li­gence is that it re­duces con­flicts be­tween group mem­bers, al­low­ing the group the re­main at least some­what dis­pas­sion­ate/​ra­tio­nal about po­ten­tial solu­tions in­stead of turn­ing dis­cus­sions about solu­tions into sta­tus piss­ing con­tests. This is sup­ported by the fact that ego-based ac­tions are well known to be ex­tremely dam­ag­ing to group out­comes in sports, and that in con­texts (e.g. poli­tics) where there are groups with pre-ex­ist­ing con­flicts de­ci­sion-mak­ing seems to be rel­a­tively poor de­spite (pre­sum­ably) higher so­cial sen­si­tivity on the part of poli­ti­ci­ans. (This also pro­vides an al­ter­na­tive ex­pla­na­tion for the benefits of hold­ing off on propos­ing solu­tions: while Eliezer fo­cused, as he is wont to do, on the im­pli­ca­tions for in­di­vi­d­ual ra­tio­nal­ity, Maier’s edict pre­sum­ably didn’t stop peo­ple from think­ing of po­ten­tial solu­tions and pri­vately set­tling on a preferred solu­tion- but be­cause they hadn’t an­nounced it pub­li­cly, they would be more will­ing to listen to oth­ers and change their mind.)

The con­tri­bu­tion from var­i­ance pre­sum­ably comes from the fact that if peo­ple are on av­er­age speak­ing roughly the same amount, then there are more ideas and per­spec­tives be­ing offered than if only a few peo­ple dom­i­nated the con­ver­sa­tion.

I’d also be in­ter­ested in see­ing whether Col­lec­tive In­tel­li­gence is cor­re­lated with in­di­vi­d­ual ra­tio­nal­ity, given that there is lit­tle to no cor­re­la­tion be­tween in­di­vi­d­ual ra­tio­nal­ity and IQ.