Wise and foolish crowds

When do groups outperform individuals in cognitive tasks? Combining experiments and theory, this line of research examine fundamental principles underlying collective wisdom across human and animal groups.

Groups have the potential to outperform the cognitive capabilities of individuals, making better decisions with less information. This phenomenon, collective wisdom, is widespread in animal socieities and is a primary benefit of group living. However, it is not an instrinsic property of any group and depends on how individuals interact and share information. For animals, these actions and interactions are shaped by natural selection to produce collectively wise choices.

With the advent of social media, we now have the ability to alter how we interact and share information with likely consequences for collective wisdom. If we do so prudently, we can promote wise and misinformation-robust societies. Unfortunately, our current approach is to organize society around engagement and ad sales.

A portion of my research focuses on understanding the conditions that promote collective wisdom over folly and how it can be improved through platform design. This work ranges from purely theoretical studies on how spatial and temporal correlations impact wisdom to empirical work on the consequences of polarization and interventions to reduce misinformation online.

Related Work

  • Combining interventions to reduce the spread of viral misinformation Nature Human Behavior
  • Counteracting estimation bias and social influence to improve the wisdom of crowds
  • The wisdom of stalemates: consensus and clustering as filtering mechanisms for improving collective accuracy.
  • Selected Media Coverage

  • Twitter Could Take These Steps to Slow Viral Misinformation, Researchers Say, CNET
  • New study improves 'crowd wisdom' estimates, Science Daily
  • NModest interventions complement each other in reducing misinformation, Science Daily
  • New study improves 'crowd wisdom' estimates, Science Daily