Tag Archives: Sally Wheelright

Group “Intelligence” Linked to Social Skills – and Number of Women Members

Anita Wooley Williams

Anita Wooley Williams

A group’s “general collective intelligence factor” is related to social and communication skills, not to the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members, found Carnegie Mellon’s Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris of Union College, with MIT colleagues Alex (“Sandy”) Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone.

Instead, group intelligence was most closely associated with:

Christopher Chabris

Christopher Chabris

The research team analyzed group productivity of more than 695 volunteers in teams of two to five members working on representative workplace tasks including:

  • Logical analysis,
  • Coordination,
  • Planning,
  • Brainstorming,
  • Moral-ethical reasoning.
Alexander Pentland

Alexander Pentland

Each team worked together to complete a series of short tasks, which were selected to represent the varied workplace deliverables and volunteers also completed an individual I.Q. test.
Teams with higher average I.Q.s performed similarly on collective intelligence tasks as teams with lower average I.Q.s.

Simon Baron-Cohen

Simon Baron-Cohen

In addition, each participant completed a measure of empathy based on accuracy of identifying emotional states based on images of people’s eyes with no other clues, developed by University of Cambridge’s Simon Baron-Cohen, Sally Wheelright, Jacqueline Hill, Yogini Raste, and Ian Plumb.

This instrument, Reading the Mind in the Eyes test, evaluates Theory of Mind skills and social reasoning, not just the ability to recognize facial expressions associated with emotions and mental states.

Sally Wheelright

Sally Wheelright

Ability to infer other team members’ concerns and emotional states, measured by Reading the Mind in the Eyes test, correlated with team effectiveness in solving workplace tasks, but not extraversion and reported motivation.

What elements enhance a group’s collective intelligence when working virtually?

David Engel

David Engel

Wooley’s team collaborated with MIT’s David Engel and Lisa X. Jing to assess the impact of interpersonal sensitivity and empathy among 68 in-person or online teams on collective intelligence task performance.

Characteristics of superior-performing “smart” teams, both online and face-to-face echoed previous results favoring social and communication skills:

  • Strong emotion-reading, empathy, and interpersonal sensitivity,
  • Communication volume,
  • Equal participation.
Reading the Mind in the Eyes

Reading the Mind in the Eyes

These teams demonstrated high collective emotional intelligence when they also excelled in inferring others’ feelings and preferences even if conveyed without visual, auditory, or non-verbal cues when interacting online.

Teams may increase task performance when members have well-developed “Emotional Intelligence,” social insight, and communication skills rather than the highest measured IQ.

  • How do you enhance a work group’s collective intelligence in performance tasks?

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