The paper detailing the research, titled ‘Swarm intelligence in humans: diversity can trump ability’, was recently published in Animal Behaviour journal and has now been selected as a Nature Research Highlight.
The team carried out the research by asking visitors to a science museum to play a marble guessing game – requiring them to estimate how many marbles were in a jar.
When the researchers made random groups out of the 2,000 plus guessers, they found that the average guess of groups with more than 40 members was better than the best quarter of individual guesses.
This, they argue, implies that large groups of average intelligence can be smarter than individual brainiacs.
The result of the research suggests that, like schooling fish or swarming bees, humans can fruitfully use collective decision-making. Groups of varying people may out-perform high-ability individuals, hinting at a selection pressure for diverse populations.