Better wisdom from crowds
MIT scholars produce new method of harvesting correct answers from groups.
Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office
The wisdom of crowds is not always perfect. But two scholars at MIT’s Sloan Neuroeconomics Lab, along with a colleague at Princeton University, have found a way to make it better.
Their method, explained in a newly published paper, uses a technique the researchers call the “surprisingly popular” algorithm to better extract correct answers from large groups of people. As such, it could refine wisdom-of-crowds surveys, which are used in political and economic forecasting, as well as many other collective activities, from pricing artworks to grading scientific research proposals.
The new method is simple. For a given question, people are asked two things: What they think the right answer is, and what they think popular opinion will be. The variation between the two aggregate responses indicates the correct answer.
“In situations where there is enough information in the crowd to determine the correct answer to a question, that answer will be the one [that] most outperforms expectations,” says paper co-author Drazen Prelec, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management as well as the Department of Economics and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. .... "