362 Adolescents & Group Problem Solving

Research by Ioannou, C. C., Madirolas, G., Brammer, F. S., Rapley, H. A., & de Polavieja, G. G. (2018).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.

Previous studies with adults have shown that decision making can be improved overall after exchanging information and group discussion. Does this work for adolescents?

European researchers investigated whether group discussion or just knowing other’s estimates would increase overall adolescents’ accuracy. Two experiments investigated this hypothesis. In the first experiment, about 150 participants wrote down an estimate of how many sweets were in a jar. Then they were divided into three-person groups. After a group discussion, they came up with one group consensus estimate. Finally, they each again wrote another estimate.

In the second experiment, 70 adolescents estimated the number of sweets in the jar. Then the other members’ estimates were revealed, and the participants made another estimate. There was no groups or discussion.

Results? The estimation accuracy improved following the group discussions, showing “collective intelligence.” However, for both groups more accuracy occurred when participants’ estimates discounted far outliers, and considered, instead, what the majority estimated.

Adolescents, as well as adults, can benefit from problem solving in groups. Learn what others think.  Consider whether you or others are outliers.  Discuss problems with others to come to with better decisions.


Ioannou, C. C., Madirolas, G., Brammer, F. S., Rapley, H. A., & de Polavieja, G. G. (2018). Adolescents show collective intelligence which can be driven by a geometric mean rule of thumb. PLoS ONE, 13(9), 1-17.

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