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Swarm intelligence: when uncertainty meets conflict

Conradt, Larissa, List, Christian and Roper, Timothy J. (2013) Swarm intelligence: when uncertainty meets conflict. The American Naturalist, 182 (5). pp. 592-610. ISSN 00030147

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When animals share decisions with others, they pool personal information, offset individual errors and, thereby, increase decision accuracy. This is termed ‘swarm intelligence.’ But what if those decisions involve conflicts of interest between individual decision-makers? Should animals share decisions with individuals whose goals are different from, and partially in conflict with, their own? A group decision model developed by Larissa Conradt (MPI Berlin) and colleagues finds that, contrary to intuition, conflicting goals often increase both decision accuracy and the individual gains derived from shared decisions. Thus, conflicts of interest, far from hampering effective decision making, can actually improve decision outcomes for all stakeholders, as long as they also have some goals in common. By contrast, conflict-free decisions shared by animals which all have the same goals are often surprisingly poor.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 The Authors
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Government
Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Research centres and groups > Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS)
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2013 15:00

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