Psychologists have repeatedly shown that a single statistical factor—often called "general intelligence"—emerges from the correlations among people's performance on a wide variety of cognitive tasks. But no one has systematically examined whether a similar kind of "collective intelligence" exists for groups of people. In two studies with 699 individuals, working in groups of two to five, we find converging evidence of a general collective intelligence factor that explains a group's performance on a wide variety of tasks. This "c factor" is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.
Finally, c was positively and significantly correlated with the proportion of females in the group (r = .23, P = .007). However, this result appears to be largely mediated by social sensitivity (Sobel z = 1.93, P = .03), since (consistent with previous research) women in our sample scored better on the social sensitivity measure than men; t(441) = 3.42, P = .001. In a regression analysis with the groups for which all three variables (social sensitivity, speaking turn variance, and percent female) were available, all had similar predictive power for c, though only social sensitivity reached statistical significance (β = .33, P = .05) (12).
Alice: YAY TELEVISION WOOO!
Bob: YAY FOOTBALL WOO!
Carol: gritting teeth Okay guys I'm carrying the two now....
Alice: Thanks, Carol! Okay, my turn.... WOO FOOTBALL YAY!
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