Groupthink, diversity and the wisdom of crowds

To link to: causality on graphs, getting along, swarm sensing, voting systems, democracy, groupthink. 🏗

Possibly diversity and tolerance is not just an intrinsic moral good, but may pay literal dividends in terms of avoiding groupthink and being ore effective etc. What are the conditions for this happy state?

When do group decisions embody the wisdom of crowds and when groupthink?

Does diversity help attain wisdom? Sometimes, it seems. Scott Page calls this the diversity dividend. Quantifying when and how it works is of interest to me.

There is some famous Google research here (not peer-reviewed, mind).

Google: Foster psychological safety

Of the five key dynamics of effective teams that the researchers identified, psychological safety was by far the most important. The Google researchers found that individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google, they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by executives.

McKinsey report, Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, and Sara Prince: Why diversity matters:

While correlation does not equal causation (greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into more profit), the correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful.

(They could possibly have done better than that mealy-mouthed correlation phrasing if they wanted via causal analysis.)

Other random readings: Chris Dillow, diversity trumps ability.

The new Matthew Syed book (titled Rebel Ideas or Superteams depending where you are) apparently covers some of this material. (Syed 2020)

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Danan, Eric, Thibault Gajdos, Brian Hill, and Jean-Marc Tallon. 2016. “Robust Social Decisions.” American Economic Review 106 (9): 2407–25.

Dinesen, Peter Thisted, and Kim Mannemar Sønderskov. 2013. “Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust: The Role of Exposure in the Micro-Context.” Ethnic Diversity and Social Capital.

Farrell, Henry, and Cosma Rohilla Shalizi. 2015. “Pursuing Cognitive Democracy.” From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age; Allen, D., Light, J., Eds, 211–31.

Fu, Feng, and Long Wang. 2008. “Coevolutionary Dynamics of Opinions and Networks: From Diversity to Uniformity.” Physical Review E 78 (1): 016104.

Hong, Lu, and Scott E. Page. 2004. “Groups of Diverse Problem Solvers Can Outperform Groups of High-Ability Problem Solvers.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101 (46): 16385–9.

Horwitz, Sujin K., and Irwin B. Horwitz. 2007. “The Effects of Team Diversity on Team Outcomes: A Meta-Analytic Review of Team Demography.” Journal of Management 33 (6): 987–1015.

Jackson, Matthew O. 2009. “Social Structure, Segregation, and Economic Behavior.” Presented as the Nancy Schwartz Memorial Lecture.

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Kong, Yuqing. 2019. “Dominantly Truthful Multi-Task Peer Prediction with a Constant Number of Tasks,” November.

Lalitha, Anusha, Tara Javidi, and Anand Sarwate. 2014. “Social Learning and Distributed Hypothesis Testing,” October.

Lee, Neil, and Max Nathan. 2011. “Does Cultural Diversity Help Innovation in Cities: Evidence from London Firms.” LSE Research Online Documents on Economics. London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

List, Christian, and Robert E. Goodin. 2001. “Epistemic Democracy: Generalizing the Condorcet Jury Theorem.” Journal of Political Philosophy 9 (3): 277–306.

Lorenz, Jan. 2010. “Heterogeneous Bounds of Confidence: Meet, Discuss and Find Consensus!” Complexity 15 (4): 43–52.

Lublin, Joann S. 2015. “New Report Finds a ‘Diversity Dividend’ at Work.” WSJ. January 20, 2015.

Mahmoodi, Ali, Dan Bang, Karsten Olsen, Yuanyuan Aimee Zhao, Zhenhao Shi, Kristina Broberg, Shervin Safavi, et al. 2015. “Equality Bias Impairs Collective Decision-Making Across Cultures.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (12): 3835–40.

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Moussaïd, Mehdi, Juliane E. Kämmer, Pantelis P. Analytis, and Hansjörg Neth. 2013. “Social Influence and the Collective Dynamics of Opinion Formation.” PLoS ONE 8 (11): e78433.

Olfati-Saber, R., J. A. Fax, and R. M. Murray. 2007. “Consensus and Cooperation in Networked Multi-Agent Systems.” Proceedings of the IEEE 95 (1): 215–33.

Page, Scott E. 2011. Diversity and Complexity. Primers in Complex Systems. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Peters, Ole, and Alexander Adamou. 2015. “An Evolutionary Advantage of Cooperation,” June.

Peter Skerry. 2002. “Beyond Sushiology: Does Diversity Work?” Brookings Institution. December 1, 2002.

Prelec, Dražen, H. Sebastian Seung, and John McCoy. 2017. “A Solution to the Single-Question Crowd Wisdom Problem.” Nature 541 (7638): 532–35.

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Syed, Matthew. 2020. Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. S.l.: John Murray.

Trouche, Emmanuel, Emmanuel Sander, and Hugo Mercier. 2014. “Arguments, More Than Confidence, Explain the Good Performance of Reasoning Groups.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 2431710. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.

Weisbuch, Gérard, Guillaume Deffuant, Frédéric Amblard, and Jean-Pierre Nadal. 2002. “Meet, Discuss, and Segregate!” Complexity 7 (3): 55–63.