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Adaptive group coordination and role differentiation.

Roberts ME, Goldstone RL - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: For all groups, performance improves with task experience, and group reactivity decreases over rounds.Our empirical results provide evidence for adaptive coordination in human groups, and as the coordination costs increase with group size, large groups adapt through spontaneous role differentiation and self-consistency among members.We suggest several agent-based models with different rules for agent reactions, and we show that the empirical results are best fit by a flexible, adaptive agent strategy in which agents decrease their reactions when the group feedback changes.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, United States of America. michaelroberts@depauw.edu

ABSTRACT
Many real world situations (potluck dinners, academic departments, sports teams, corporate divisions, committees, seminar classes, etc.) involve actors adjusting their contributions in order to achieve a mutually satisfactory group goal, a win-win result. However, the majority of human group research has involved situations where groups perform poorly because task constraints promote either individual maximization behavior or diffusion of responsibility, and even successful tasks generally involve the propagation of one correct solution through a group. Here we introduce a group task that requires complementary actions among participants in order to reach a shared goal. Without communication, group members submit numbers in an attempt to collectively sum to a randomly selected target number. After receiving group feedback, members adjust their submitted numbers until the target number is reached. For all groups, performance improves with task experience, and group reactivity decreases over rounds. Our empirical results provide evidence for adaptive coordination in human groups, and as the coordination costs increase with group size, large groups adapt through spontaneous role differentiation and self-consistency among members. We suggest several agent-based models with different rules for agent reactions, and we show that the empirical results are best fit by a flexible, adaptive agent strategy in which agents decrease their reactions when the group feedback changes. The task offers a simple experimental platform for studying the general problem of group coordination while maximizing group returns, and we distinguish the task from several games in behavioral game theory.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

The Y-axis indicates groups' reactions following a given magnitude of numeric feedback on the X-axis (top graph), or an unknown disparity level (the group is only told “Too High” or “Too Low”) in directional feedback games (bottom graph).In both graphs, the solid line is the best-fit line for the data, indicating under-reactivity from the optimal dashed line.
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pone-0022377-g003: The Y-axis indicates groups' reactions following a given magnitude of numeric feedback on the X-axis (top graph), or an unknown disparity level (the group is only told “Too High” or “Too Low”) in directional feedback games (bottom graph).In both graphs, the solid line is the best-fit line for the data, indicating under-reactivity from the optimal dashed line.

Mentions: In order to examine the consistency of behaviors among participants, we calculated each participant's “reactivity” according to the formula (Gr – Gr-1) if the group's sum was lower than the target number on the previous round, and (Gr-1– Gr) if the group was too high, where Gr is the participant's guess on round r. Groups generally underreact, as shown in Figure 3, though only small groups significantly underreact. These results are particularly revealing for directional feedback games, because groups react surprisingly close to the best-fit line despite only receiving directional information. In these cases, individuals may follow a strategy of gradually decreasing their reactivity over rounds. In numeric feedback games, large magnitude feedback tempts individuals in large groups to overreact and form outliers, but overall, the analyses support a nuanced strategy of decreasing reactivity over time in both feedback conditions. The average reactivity of group members per round significantly decreases over the last six rounds prior to solution (This method of aligning rounds allows for greater comparability between numeric and directional games, and small and large groups, given their different solution times), ß = −.326, p = .001. However, a paired samples t test for all games of all groups reveals that participants significantly decrease their reactivities when the feedback direction changes from one round to the next (mean decrease of 1.55), but maintain approximately the same reactivity (mean decrease of .11) when the feedback direction remains the same, t(148) = 4.75, p<.001.


Adaptive group coordination and role differentiation.

Roberts ME, Goldstone RL - PLoS ONE (2011)

The Y-axis indicates groups' reactions following a given magnitude of numeric feedback on the X-axis (top graph), or an unknown disparity level (the group is only told “Too High” or “Too Low”) in directional feedback games (bottom graph).In both graphs, the solid line is the best-fit line for the data, indicating under-reactivity from the optimal dashed line.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3139637&req=5

pone-0022377-g003: The Y-axis indicates groups' reactions following a given magnitude of numeric feedback on the X-axis (top graph), or an unknown disparity level (the group is only told “Too High” or “Too Low”) in directional feedback games (bottom graph).In both graphs, the solid line is the best-fit line for the data, indicating under-reactivity from the optimal dashed line.
Mentions: In order to examine the consistency of behaviors among participants, we calculated each participant's “reactivity” according to the formula (Gr – Gr-1) if the group's sum was lower than the target number on the previous round, and (Gr-1– Gr) if the group was too high, where Gr is the participant's guess on round r. Groups generally underreact, as shown in Figure 3, though only small groups significantly underreact. These results are particularly revealing for directional feedback games, because groups react surprisingly close to the best-fit line despite only receiving directional information. In these cases, individuals may follow a strategy of gradually decreasing their reactivity over rounds. In numeric feedback games, large magnitude feedback tempts individuals in large groups to overreact and form outliers, but overall, the analyses support a nuanced strategy of decreasing reactivity over time in both feedback conditions. The average reactivity of group members per round significantly decreases over the last six rounds prior to solution (This method of aligning rounds allows for greater comparability between numeric and directional games, and small and large groups, given their different solution times), ß = −.326, p = .001. However, a paired samples t test for all games of all groups reveals that participants significantly decrease their reactivities when the feedback direction changes from one round to the next (mean decrease of 1.55), but maintain approximately the same reactivity (mean decrease of .11) when the feedback direction remains the same, t(148) = 4.75, p<.001.

Bottom Line: For all groups, performance improves with task experience, and group reactivity decreases over rounds.Our empirical results provide evidence for adaptive coordination in human groups, and as the coordination costs increase with group size, large groups adapt through spontaneous role differentiation and self-consistency among members.We suggest several agent-based models with different rules for agent reactions, and we show that the empirical results are best fit by a flexible, adaptive agent strategy in which agents decrease their reactions when the group feedback changes.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, United States of America. michaelroberts@depauw.edu

ABSTRACT
Many real world situations (potluck dinners, academic departments, sports teams, corporate divisions, committees, seminar classes, etc.) involve actors adjusting their contributions in order to achieve a mutually satisfactory group goal, a win-win result. However, the majority of human group research has involved situations where groups perform poorly because task constraints promote either individual maximization behavior or diffusion of responsibility, and even successful tasks generally involve the propagation of one correct solution through a group. Here we introduce a group task that requires complementary actions among participants in order to reach a shared goal. Without communication, group members submit numbers in an attempt to collectively sum to a randomly selected target number. After receiving group feedback, members adjust their submitted numbers until the target number is reached. For all groups, performance improves with task experience, and group reactivity decreases over rounds. Our empirical results provide evidence for adaptive coordination in human groups, and as the coordination costs increase with group size, large groups adapt through spontaneous role differentiation and self-consistency among members. We suggest several agent-based models with different rules for agent reactions, and we show that the empirical results are best fit by a flexible, adaptive agent strategy in which agents decrease their reactions when the group feedback changes. The task offers a simple experimental platform for studying the general problem of group coordination while maximizing group returns, and we distinguish the task from several games in behavioral game theory.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus