Two heads perform better than one sometimes
A new study published on August 26 in the journal
Science explains the old adage that two heads are better than one is not always true.
Professors Chris Frith of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at the University College London (UCL) and Niels Bohr at the University of Aarhus in Denmark and colleagues discovered that two heads work best when they are equals and can speak freely with one another.
Bahador Bahrami, MD, researcher at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and lead author of the study, explained, "When we are trying to solve problems, we usually put our heads together in teams, calling on each other's opinions.
"For our study, we wanted to see if two people could combine information from each other in a difficult judgement task and how much this would improve their performance."
Frith noted, "When two people working together can discuss their disagreements, two heads can be better than one. But, when one person is working with flawed information - or perhaps is less able at their job - then this can have a very negative effect on the outcome.
"Being able to work together successfully requires that we know how competent we are. Joint decisions don't work when a member of the team is incompetent, but doesn't know it."
According to the researchers if you are working on a project or with a team, it might be best to select a partner that you not only work well with but also is a good communicator and competent, or at least as competent as you.
Full study, "Optimally interacting minds": http://www.sciencemag.org/sciencexpress/recent.dtl
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