Sensitivity, Women, Sharing: What Makes Teams Smart

When teams of professionals are composed of more women, share ideas in equal part, and are emotionally perceptive, they make better decisions and find better solutions to problems.

When teams of professionals are composed of more women, share ideas in equal part, and are emotionally perceptive, they make better decisions and find better solutions to problems.


As part of an emerging science of effective teamwork, researchers at MIT and Carnegie Mellon University have been asking why some teams, like some individuals, are measurably smarter than others.

Scientists classify individual intelligence as general rather than specific. In other words, smarter people are smarter across the board. People with larger vocabularies, for example, also tend to be better at mathematics, even though we tend to think of those as distinct areas of intelligence.

Group intelligence is also general. Groups which performed better on tasks that involved logical analysis and brainstorming also did better on problems emphasizing coordination, planning and moral reasoning.

The smartest teams were distinguished by members which contributed more equally to the discussion, were better at reading complex emotional states in lab settings, and were composed of more women (possibly because women are better at identifying emotion).

These characteristics were also true of groups that corresponded online, either through live chatrooms, conference calls, or traditional email.

At Big Think, entrepreneur Dwayne Spradlin explained how he has seen group consensus arrive at novel solutions that benefit the environment:

Read more at the New York Times

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