Need a successful group? Add women

Some researchers at Carnegie Mellon did a pretty cool study where they measured the intelligence and other personality traits of people, put them into groups randomly, and then used a variety of tasks to measure the “intelligence” of the groups.  They could then analyze how the various features of the persons in the group affected overall group performance.

Among the findings, the average IQ of those in the group did not appear to have any impact on the overall impact of the group.  What did?  Groups with more women out-performed those with fewer women.   Actually, it’s not being female, per se, but the fact that women are more likely to be higher in “social sensitivity”:

That collective intelligence, the researchers believe, stems from how well the group works together. For instance, groups whose members had higher levels of “social sensitivity” were more collectively intelligent. “Social sensitivity has to do with how well group members perceive each other’s emotions,” says Christopher Chabris, a co-author and assistant professor of psychology at Union College in New York.

“Also, in groups where one person dominated, the group was less collectively intelligent than in groups where the conversational turns were more evenly distributed,” adds Woolley. And teams containing more women demonstrated greater social sensitivity and in turn greater collective intelligence compared to teams containing fewer women.

So, when trying to assemble productive groups/teams, the key should be to make sure there’s plenty of “social sensitivity” among the group members.  And, the short-cut to doing that appears to be to aim to have more women.  Or guys like me.

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Gay vs. straight by the numbers

Gotta love the OK Cupid blog that combs through all the data on their dating website to paint interesting pictures of the American public.  In their latest efforts, they compare their gay vs. straight members based on geography and various personality and demographic traits.   I love this graph of the nation looking at levels of people they describe as “gay curious”:

Wow– what’s up with Oregon?  And are we to presume that all the straights in Mississippi are horribly repressed?  And, actually, Canada’s part of the map, too.  Oregon is just in the wrong country.

There’s more cool graphs there, if you’re curious.

Largely unrelated Mad men quote: Betty Draper to Don Draper, regarding daughter Sally, “She’s taken to your tools like a little lesbian.”

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