My main achievement last week was to identify “collective problem solving” as my topic, and complexity science as my first subject. My first challenge this week was to identify my second subject. After consulting our resident experts, Craig, Olivier, Paul and Chris H, it has become clear that the most relevant subject will be psychology, specifically social Psychology.
So, on Craig’s advice, I’ve got hold of the hefty tome that is Paul Gross’s “Psychology”, and read the early chapters, deepening my understanding of the different major approaches to the subject, which will form the beginning of my review. The book is well structured and pretty clear, but seems light on research techniques.
Olivier recommended “Group Processes” by Rupert Brown, and I’ve been finding this an enjoyable read. After the early context, I’m focussing on the chapters on group productivity, which are directly relevant to my topic. It seems that research has focussed on trying to determine the relative advantage or disadvantage of doing things as a group as compared to doing them as individuals. They do this by statistically simulating groups actually made up of individuals working seperately, and comparing their performance to real groups working together. So far the results don’t look too complimentary for the collective, but there’s more to come.
On complexity science, I have attended another lecture and discussion, and I have raised my topic with the course leader, Seth. He’s agreed that it’s an interesting area, and complexity science has plenty to say about it. I hope to pick his brains further this week, particularly on reading.