Teams work better than individuals at intelligence analysis and predicting crucial world events, reveals a new study.
When it comes to predicting important world events, teams do a better job than individuals, and laypeople can be trained to be effective forecasters even without access to classified records.
The study findings challenged some common practices of the U.S. intelligence community, where professional analysts usually specialize in one topic or region and send reports up the chain of command.
In what the authors called the first scientific study of its kind, researchers identified common characteristics that improved predictions by amateur participants in a geopolitical forecasting tournament.
The contest was sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), anagency within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that funds research to improve intelligence practices.
Barbara Mellers, PhD, said that teams could share information and discuss their rationales but still submit anonymous forecasts and this type of teamwork that protects dissent was really important, but it wasn't being used to the full extent that it should be in the intelligence community.
The most accurate forecasters in the tournament were better at pattern detection, cognitive flexibility, knowledge of geopolitics and open-mindedness, including a willingness to consider unorthodox outcomes.
The study concluded that Geopolitical forecasting tournaments should become a regular facet of research to improve intelligence analysis and track the performance of analysts.
The research is published by the American Psychological Association.