Another group interaction experiment I’d like someone to perform

I posted a while back about an interesting experiment in group intelligence I’d like someone to perform. I thought of another interesting experiment I’d like to see performed, so it’s apparently starting to become a habit.

The experiment is as follows:

Put two people in a room. Tell them to talk to eachother. After some fixed period of time (say, 10 minutes), take them out of the room and give each of them a questionnaire. The questionnaire has N questions on of it, each of which is a binary choice. These questions could be things like “Do you mostly agree with this complex political statement?”, “You are given a choice between these two scenarios, which do you pick?” etc. Things which are very much about your value and behaviours rather than simple statements of objective facts.

Each of these questions must be filled out twice. Once with your answer, once with what you think your partner is most likely to answer.

Basic questions it would be interesting to answer:

  • What questions are people particularly good at bad or predicting?
  • Is the prediction rate asymmetric? If one person successfully predicts the other well, is the other likely to be worse or at prediction?
  • Are predictions better when the answers are different or the same?

More advanced questions that would be interesting to answer:

  • How do prediction rates differ when we vary the length of the conversation?
  • How do prediction rates differ with different primings for the conversation? e.g. rather than instructing “Talk to eachother”, say “Talk to eachother about your family”
  • How do prediction rates differ if instead of talking to eachother in person you talk via an instant messaging program? Or via a phone?
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2 thoughts on “Another group interaction experiment I’d like someone to perform

  1. James

    I wonder if how they’re dressed makes a difference, or the context they’re talking in.

    E.g. dressed in ‘interview’ clothes which somewhat erase personality
    Dressed in normal clothes which will have some partiality
    In a uniform provided for them

    Put them in a public coffee shop so it feels natural
    Put them either side of a desk so it feels more formal.

    Put them in a environment that feels artificial but with comfortable chairs or sofas.
    I can imagine these affecting both how the impressions people get and give.

    1. david Post author

      Agreed, these all sound like very interesting variations to test.

      It also makes me realise that there are two interesting things that variation can do: One is that it can improve overall predictive capability, another is that it can introduce systematic bias. If you’re wearing a suit I bet people are more likely to answer as if you were politically conservative regardless of what you say.

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