Make a team more intelligent – add more women

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women_raising_hands_1600_wht_7873Putting a group of highly intelligent people in a team doesn’t always produce the best results.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and MIT Sloan School of Management have found there is no correlation between individual IQ scores and group intelligence.

Participants were first given standard intelligence tests and then randomly assigned to teams. The teams were asked to brainstorm, solve visual puzzles and one complex problem, and then each team’s collective intelligence was assessed.

The teams that had members with higher IQ scores didn’t score much higher than the average but teams that had more women in them did.

Factors such as group cohesion, motivation, and satisfaction were not predictive of the teams’ performance but gender diversity was correlated. The researchers put this down to what they call social sensitivity (which sound similar to the emotional intelligence factors of empathy and awareness of others).

Teams displaying social sensitivity would be more open to feedback and constructive criticism. Teams that had smart people dominating the discussions didn’t turn out to be so intelligent as a group.

So in theory a group of high IQ members could score better on the team tests but it would probably be because they had higher levels of social sensitivity as well. Women score higher on this than men but if you had more socially sensitive men that would work too.

The researchers also suggest that extremely diverse groups and highly homogeneous groups aren’t as intelligent as groups with a moderate degree of variety in IQ scores. They also see the potential for improving IQ at organisational level through changing the make-up of a group and rewarding collaboration, although the larger a group gets the less opportunity there is for face to face interaction.

This research is interesting because it uses collective IQ as a predictor. We know now that IQ scores can vary depending on the motivation of the individual and that when you are stressed your IQ level drops. Putting people in a more collaborative and supportive environment probably contributes to the enhanced group effect.

Source: HBR June 2011

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6 thoughts on “Make a team more intelligent – add more women

    Women and Teams « Biz Psycho said:
    June 10, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    […] Then we had the research finding that said that to make a team more intelligent – simply add more women. […]

    […] is interesting because not long ago I posted on how adding women to your group raised its collective IQ. This was attributed to women having better social skills, or more social sensitivity (similar to […]

    […] recent research suggests that adding women to a team can make it collectively smarter (unless they are given feedback in a group setting) but adding women to boards doesn’t […]

    Men and Women are different at Work « Biz Psycho said:
    June 22, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    […] let’s give the final words to women. There is evidence that while women can contribute a lot to teams they don’t always perform at their best in them. They are also more critical of […]

    […] Adding women to a team can increase the group IQ level […]

    […] which shows that women respond to stress differently, are often better at soft skills than men, can improve teams, and may be more emotionally intelligent to […]

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