Groups of humans show a general intelligence that is not simply related to individual intelligence, but social sensitivity and proportion of women


People who do well on one mental task tend to do well on others, which suggests that there is such a thing as general intelligence and it various among people. In principle scores could be negative related, if different people’s brains were specialised for different things. But instead scores tend to be positively related, and average score is correlated with life measures such as life expectancy and success at work. People often work together, so we asked whether the performance of groups is also correlated across different tasks and how group performance relates to individual intelligence.


We found that (similarly to individuals) groups that were good on one of our fifteen tasks tended to be good on the others, suggesting that groups show a general intelligence. However, there was not relationship between group intelligence and either the average performance of individuals or the performance of the best performing individual. Instead, group performance was influenced by the social sensitivity of individuals and the evenness of talking among group members. That is, if group discussions were dominated by a single individual then groups performed poorly on all tasks. Groups with a larger proportion of women also performed better.


Group performance is not maximised by choosing the most intelligent individuals, but individuals that are cooperative, which means that all individuals contribute to problem solving. This has broad implications for the structure of teams in organisation and decisions about leadership processes.


Social behaviour

Subject Group

Zoology and Ecology






group composition

Posted by


on Fri Nov 10 2017

Article ID


Details of original research article:

Woolley AW, Chabris CF, Pentland A, Hashmi N, Malone TW. Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups. Science. 2010;330:686-688.

Preceded by:

Democratic decisions by animal groups give better average outcomes than decisions by a despot

Posted by: AndrewDHigginson Posted Fri Nov 10 2017

Groups of animals can stay together and make fast and accurate decisions if each individual mostly goes with the majority

Posted by: AndrewDHigginson Posted Fri Nov 10 2017


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