Do you work better alone or in a group? There has been much debate surrounding whether collaboration actually yields better results, or just ends up being too many cooks in the kitchen.
But now, a new study has found that people answer quiz puzzles and questions more accurately in groups than on by themselves.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of College of London and published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.
The study contradicts the popular and scientifically backed theory that solving problems in a group setting doesn’t effectively find a solution as it can cause “herd think.”
“Many previous studies on the wisdom of crowds found that discussing with others could hinder collective wisdom because social influence leads to imitation and the power of the crowd vanishes,” said Dr. Joaquin Nvajas, lead author of the study.
The research found that working together was actually more effective for problem-solving as group members share ideas, reasoning, and arguments when coming to a common solution.
The team tested the general knowledge of 5,180 people, including questions ranging from the height of the Eiffel Tower to the number of elevators in the Empire State Building.
For the first part of the study, individuals were asked to answer questions on their own and had a 20 second time limit. Next, people were put into groups of five and were given 1 minute to answer four out of eight questions.
When placed in groups, incorrect answers were reduced by almost half, 49.2 percent. Errors and wrong answers were fixed or at least closer to the correct answer when people worked together.
The results show that herd-think and crowd mentality may not be as detrimental to problem-solving as previously thought.
“Our results are in contrast to an extensive literature on herding and dysfunctional group behavior, which exhorts us to remain as independent as possible,” the authors wrote. “Instead, our findings are consistent with research in collaborative learning showing that ‘think–pair– share’ strategies and peer discussion can increase the understanding of conceptual problems.
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer