Groups and Thinking (01-19-21)

Design researchers will find research recently published by Guilbeault, Baronchelli, and Centola (in Nature Communications) readily applicable. The team reports that “In an experiment in which people were asked to categorize unfamiliar shapes, individuals and small groups created many different unique categorization systems while large groups created systems that were nearly identical to one another. . . . researchers assigned participants to various sized groups — ranging from 1 to 50 — and then asked them to play an online game in which they were shown unfamiliar shapes, which they were asked to categorize in a meaningful way. All of the small groups invented wildly different ways of categorizing the shapes. Yet, when large groups were left to their own devices, each one independently invented a nearly identical category system.”

“Why Independent Culture Think Alike When it Comes to Categories:  It’s Not in the Brain.”  2021. Press release, University of Pennsylvania,