The Ideal Small Team: Smart, Socially Sensitive, and More-female?

From MIT:

Controlling for individual abilities, groups with more women had more ‘collective intelligence’ (mixture of scores on group tasks).  Average individual intelligence was about 8 times less important on some final test in 3 person groups than that group’s performance measured on other tasks (call this CI or ‘chemistry’ if you like).  Of course, CI is itself is correlated with avg. and max. individual intelligence (r=.17), but more so with avg ‘social sensitivity’ (ability to read emotions based on pictures of the eye region - you can take the online test) (r=.26), and with evenness of turn-taking in speaking (r=.4).  The female-group advantage (r=.23) is mostly but not entirely explained by the tendency of females to score higher on ‘social sensitivity’.  Turn-taking evenness is likely not a cause, but an indication of a well-functioning group where everyone is really trying.  Of course if someone is being talked over beyond their ability to persist, they will probably stop contributing, but this rarely happens.  Full paper and experimental details (from Science).

It’s interesting that the women in these studies were on average less intelligent and better at reading faces than men (both IQ and sensitivity are useful for group performance), and their presence yielded significant group performance gains.  Alternative hypothesis: a man in a group which also has women will try harder to impress them.  This could be tested by segregating the analysis by all-male vs. some-female (the same could be done for all-female vs. some male; after all it may be that women try harder in the presence of men also).