How to detect high-performing individuals and groups: Decision similarity predicts accuracy

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Science Advances  20 Nov 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 11, eaaw9011
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw9011


Distinguishing between high- and low-performing individuals and groups is of prime importance in a wide range of high-stakes contexts. While this is straightforward when accurate records of past performance exist, these records are unavailable in most real-world contexts. Focusing on the class of binary decision problems, we use a combined theoretical and empirical approach to develop and test a approach to this important problem. First, we use a general mathematical argument and numerical simulations to show that the similarity of an individual’s decisions to others is a powerful predictor of that individual’s decision accuracy. Second, testing this prediction with several large datasets on breast and skin cancer diagnostics, geopolitical forecasting, and a general knowledge task, we find that decision similarity robustly permits the identification of high-performing individuals and groups. Our findings offer a simple, yet broadly applicable, heuristic for improving real-world decision-making systems.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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