Want a Smarter Group? Add More Women

That’s one of the conclusions in an op-ed in the New York Times today.  Researchers Anita Woolley, Thomas W. Malone, and Christopher Chabris did a series of studies finding that the “smartest” teams (measured by performance in logical analysis, brainstorming, coordination, planning and moral reasoning) were distinguished by three characteristics.

First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.   Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.   Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men.

They replicated their experiments online and found:

Emotion-reading mattered just as much for the online teams whose members could not see one another as for the teams that worked face to face. What makes teams smart must be not just the ability to read facial expressions, but a more general ability, known as “Theory of Mind,” to consider and keep track of what other people feel, know and believe.

With more than half of our blog composed of women, no wonder we’re so smart.

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