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Are two heads better than one?

In this Centre for Applied Autism Research annual lecture, Professor Dame Uta Frith and Professor Chris Frith will discuss their research into decision making.

  • 28 Feb 2018, 5.00pm to 28 Feb 2018, 6.00pm GMT
  • 10 West, 2.47, University of Bath
  • This event is free
A group of people walking in one direction and an individual walking in another direction (Shutterstock image 360673847)
The lecture will examine whether making a decision as a group or individually leads to better results

Can groups of people really make better decisions than the best member of the group on their own? We will discuss research that suggests this is the case, under certain conditions. But what do we expect in the case of adults with autism?

We hope to stimulate research on this topic by presenting a paradigm that has been tried and tested: two people have to detect a stimulus and have to come to a joined decision about when and where it occurred. This is compared with a situation where each individual makes their own decision.

In previous experiments the secret of better joint decisions was found in the spontaneous alignment of confidence of the two partners. It would be interesting to find out whether autistic individuals also align their confidence. If so, this would throw light on their still little understood ability to imitate and to experience contagious empathy. We will discuss limitations of group decisions, including inappropriate alignment, and common biases that are hard to overcome.

The lecture will be followed by a wine reception.

Speaker profiles

Professor Dame Uta Frith formally opened the Centre for Applied Autism Research in 2016 and is best known for her research on autism spectrum disorders. Her work on reading development, spelling and dyslexia has also been highly influential.

Professor Chris Frith studies the mechanisms underlying the human ability to share representations of the world, for it is this ability that makes communication possible and allows us to achieve more than we could as individuals.