An interesting experiment that no one seems to have performed

A thing I am interested in is group problem solving and group intelligence. When pondering this, the following interesting experiment occurred to me. I can’t find any evidence of it ever having been done unfortunately (yes, I could run it, but I’m not really in the right career for that…):

The basic idea is simple. You take some sort of untimed intelligence test – e.g. Raven’s Progressive Matrices might be a good choice (I don’t know enough about psychometrics to say for sure if it is or not).

You now take a largish sample of people. Each of these people takes the test.

Now you do something different. You pair the people off, and they take the test collaboratively. i.e. two people are put together in a room with the test and are asked to solve it together.

The question is this: How does the score of pairs relate to the score of individuals? Does this depend on any priming on how to collaborate you give them? (e.g. if one person has absolute deciding factor versus if they flip a coin on disagreements). Is it larger than the maximum of their two scores? Smaller?

You’d have to do some careful experiment design to watch for training effects – e.g. do half of the individual tests after the paired tests rather than before and see if it makes a difference – but I think most of these problems can be overcome with careful experiment design.

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3 thoughts on “An interesting experiment that no one seems to have performed

  1. Bill Mill

    The important thing about this experiment would be to look at the outliers, not just the average.

    My hypothesis is that the average pair would do somewhat better than the better-scoring of the two, but that there would be pairs that collaborated for very high and very low scores. What did those pairs do to be succesful/failful?

    1. david Post author

      Yes, absolutely.

      The other interesting thing to look at (which would require some experimental modification) is if there are people who provide a much larger boost to the result of pairs they’re in than their solo score would suggest they should.

  2. Pingback: Another group interaction experiment I’d like someone to perform | David R. MacIver

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