PerspectivePsychology

Tapping into the Wisdom of the Crowd—with Confidence

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Science  20 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6079, pp. 303-304
DOI: 10.1126/science.1221403

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Summary

If research in psychology had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Award, it would go to—drum roll, please—the group as a decision-making instrument. Since the late 19th century, the group (also known as jury, team, crowd, and swarm) has been deplored as a source of intellectual inferiority (1) and disastrous policy decisions (2) and hailed as a source of near-magical creativity (3) and unparalleled wisdom and forecast accuracy (4, 5). Some of these attributions have proved to be unfounded. For instance, with respect to creative potential, groups that engage in brainstorming lag hopelessly behind the same number of individuals working alone (6). The key to benefiting from other minds is to know when to rely on the group and when to walk alone. On page 360 of this issue, Koriat (7) explores the value of individual confidence in group decision-making.