Collective Intelligence

by Patrick Appel

Carolyn Johnson reports on the latest research:

Instead of seeing groups as nameless and faceless affiliations that swallow up an individual’s identity, the new work on collective behavior suggests that in company lies opportunity. The field of intelligence testing has long been controversial, in part because of concerns that such scores were crude and biased, pigeon-holing people as stupid or smart. In contrast, collective intelligence offers a new spectrum of possibilities. Instead of pronouncing a person’s intellectual engine good or bad, the research suggests that group intelligence is highly malleable and that concrete steps such as mixing newcomers into an established team or not allowing a single leader to dominate could fundamentally alter the group’s intelligence.