More women make teams more intelligent

There are lots of reasons to worry about intelligence tests, but they probably do measure *something* and that something as a property of groups seems to increase as the groups get more women. (Note that they say it’s not diversity that helps: it’s women.)

The finding: There’s little correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.

The research: Professors Woolley and Malone, along with Christopher Chabris, Sandy Pentland, and Nada Hashmi, gave subjects aged 18 to 60 standard intelligence tests and assigned them randomly to teams. Each team was asked to complete several tasks—including brainstorming, decision making, and visual puzzles—and to solve one complex problem. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. Though the teams that had members with higher IQs didn’t earn much higher scores, those that had more women did.

Not sure what to make of it, but it’s interesting. More here. (Thanks, S!)

8 thoughts on “More women make teams more intelligent

  1. I’m not too confident in that linear trend line in that graph at the bottom of the linked article. It kind of looks like maybe the best groups are the mixed ones.

  2. I’m sure there are others like me who have read this post and don’t even know where to start.

  3. Taken together, these results provide strong support for the existence of a single dominant c factor underlying group performance.

    When the same task was done by groups, however, the average individual intelligence of the group members was not a significant predictor of group performance (r = 0.18, ns). When both individual intelligence and c are used to predict group performance, c is a significant predictor (β = 0.36, P = 0.0001), but average group member intelligence (β = 0.05, ns) and maximum member intelligence (β = 0.12, ns) are not (Fig. 1).

    If c exists, what causes it? Combining the findings of the two studies, the average intelligence of individual group members was moderately correlated with c (r = 0.15, P = 0.04), and so was the intelligence of the highest-scoring team member (r = 0.19, P = 0.008). However, for both studies, c was still a much better predictor of group performance on the criterion tasks than the average or maximum individual intelligence

    Finally, c was positively and significantly correlated with the proportion of females in the group (r = 0.23, P = 0.007).

    ******* However, this result appears to be largely mediated by social sensitivity (Sobel z = 1.93, P = 0.03), because (consistent with previous research) women in our sample scored better on the social sensitivity measure than men [t(441) = 3.42, P = 0.001]. 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, although only social sensitivity reached statistical significance (β = 0.33, P = 0.05) (12).********

  4. I don’t think I have access to the full text of the article, but how is “c” defined?

    I’m feeling afraid that “c” may be defined with reference to the group’s performance on tasks. In which case, of course it’s a much better predictor of that performance than individual intelligence or anything else that’s not defined by that performance itself.

  5. DavidC, I would assume that the “c factor” is constructed the same way that the g factor is constructed to explain variation in test performance between individuals: namely, by factor analyzing the groups’ performance on a diverse battery of tests. If the resulting c factor of such a procedure is a robust construct that is able to explain a greater portion of the variance than the IQs of individual group members, then that’s a very significant discovery that I frankly find a little hard to believe. I would like to know what tests they used — the short description given in the OP doesn’t sound too promising. How do you score “brainstorming,” for instance?

    But in any case, it sounds like pretty exciting research.

  6. Still disagree (or at least I’m confused). If there’s *anything* that predicts group performance on a given battery of tests, your would expect something constructed from group performance on a given battery of tests that to do it well (better than individual intelligences).

    The question then is just: How well do individual intelligences predict that factor? (What other things predict that factor?)

  7. Click to access Woolley2010b.pdf

    This is actually mind-blowing. The highest correlation found in the study was between RAPM and c (0.86), far greater than average intelligence (0.19) and highest intelligence (0.33). The brainstorming test is actually a decent predictor for creativity (number of ideas generated). The strongest correlation of c is the RAPM, which is arguably the test which is the highest g-loaded.

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