Tag Archives: Simon Baron-Cohen

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

More than 695 volunteers completed an individual I.Q. test, then collaborated in teams to complete workplace tasks including:

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

Alexander Pentland

Teams with higher average I.Qs performed similarly on collective intelligence tasks as teams with lower average I.Qs.

Simon Baron-Cohen

Simon Baron-Cohen

Each participant also completed a measure of empathy based on identifying emotional states portrayed in images of people’s eyes, 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 social reasoning.

Sally Wheelright

Sally Wheelright

Ability to infer other team members’ emotional states correlated with team effectiveness in solving workplace tasks, but not with extraversion and reported motivation.

David Engel

David Engel

Teams that performed best, both online and face-to-face, also demonstrated stronger social and communication skills:

  • Accurate emotion-reading, empathy, and interpersonal sensitivity,
  • Communication volume,
  • Equal participation.

High-performing teams excelled in inferring others’ feelings even if conveyed without visual, auditory, or non-verbal cues while interacting online in a study by Wooley’s team collaboration with MIT’s David Engel and Lisa X. Jing.

Reading the Mind in the Eyes

Reading the Mind in the Eyes

These studies demonstrate that 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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Reading Literary Fiction Increases “Theory of Mind” Empathic Insight

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka opined that people should read literature as “an axe to break the frozen sea inside us.”

David Comer Kidd-Emanuele Castano

David Comer Kidd-Emanuele Castano

New School for Social Research’s Emanuele Castano and David Comer Kidd showed the effectiveness of Kafka’s recommendation:  Reading award-winning literary fiction increased emotional intelligence, social perception, and empathy, known as Theory of Mind (ToM) abilities.

Theory of Mind (ToM) skills enable people to recognize and infer mental states like emotions, attitudes, concerns, and beliefs, and to understand that other people may have different beliefs, wishes, and goals.

In contrast, people with autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, neurotoxicity due to alcohol abuse, can experience ToM deficits.

Castano and Kidd asked volunteers ages 18 to 75 to read:

  • Commercial fiction or
  • Literary non-fiction or
  • Factual non-fiction or
  • Nothing

Next, they asked participants to describe their own emotional states, or people’s emotions from photographs of their eyes.

Those who read literary fiction more accurately judge others’ emotions, a measure of emotional intelligence, social perception, and empathy.
Results demonstrated that literary fiction, which requires making inferences about characters, their emotions, relationships, and motivations, triggered this increased social insight.

Simon Baron-Cohen

Simon Baron-Cohen

Examples of tests to assess these skills are summarized by Simon Baron-Cohen, an expert on autism, and cousin of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, along with the New School Researchers.

P. Matthijs Bal

P. Matthijs Bal

Vrije Universiteit‘s P. Matthijs Bal and Martijn Veltkamp of FrieslandCampina differentiated “transporting” fiction that “emotionally transported the reader into the story” with fiction that did not.

Martijn Veltkamp

Martijn Veltkamp

Bal and Veltkamp found that reading “transporting” fiction increases the reader’s empathic capabilities, but not fiction that lacks “transporting” qualities.

-*Which works of literary fiction have influenced your attitudes and empathic attunement with others?

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