Numbers Don't Lie

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Three-person groups best for problem-solving

What is the optimum group size for logic-based problem solving?
It seems 3-person groups work best. That’s according to Patrick Laughlin and colleagues who tested 760 students on a series of 'letters-to-numbers' logic problems. For each of problems, the performance of students working alone was compared with the performance of a 2-, 3-, 4-and 5-person group working on the same problem.
The 2-person groups didn’t tend to perform any better than the best of 2 students who were working alone on the same problem. However, the 3, 4 and 5-person groups consistently outperformed the best of 3, 4 or 5 individuals working alone on the same task. The groups solved the problem more quickly and used more sophisticated equations.
However, the 4- and 5-person groups were no better than the 3-person groups, suggesting a team of three is the optimum group size for logic-based problem solving. “If groups of three perform as well as groups of larger size, it is obviously a more efficient use of human and logistic resources to use 3-person groups”, the researchers concluded.



Blogger Mike said...

Three is best because 2 can gang up on one. With 4 or 5 you'll have 1 or 2 watching 2 ganging up on 1.

1:32 AM

Blogger Ginger Blue said...

Mike, that's a male perspective. I see it as one person taking charge and working it through, the second is agreeing with and supporting him, while the third is watching and coming up with a different angle to solve the problem.

That being said, I wonder if there were gender differences in this. Men and women DO solve problems differently and have much different group dynamics.

6:25 AM

Blogger BxCapricorn said...

This evidence supports the way the British Legal system works. Three judges with powdered wigs, listen to the evidence and they are the jury. Why America still uses "12 people so dumb that they could not get out of jury duty" (lawyers say), is beyond comprehension.

10:08 AM


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