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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2018 May 12. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13843. [Epub ahead of print]

Group benefits in joint perceptual tasks-a review.

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Universität Osnabrück, Institute of Cognitive Science, Osnabrück, Germany.
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Institut für Neurophysiologie und Pathophysiologie, Hamburg, Germany.


In daily life, humans often perform perceptual tasks together to reach a shared goal. In these situations, individuals may collaborate (e.g., by distributing task demands) to perform the task better than when the task is performed alone (i.e., attain a group benefit). In this review, we identify the factors influencing if, and to what extent, a group benefit is attained and provide a framework of measures to assess group benefits in perceptual tasks. In particular, we integrate findings from two frequently investigated joint perceptual tasks: visuospatial tasks and decision-making tasks. For both task types, we find that an exchange of information between coactors is critical to improve joint performance. Yet, the type of exchanged information and how coactors collaborate differs between tasks. In visuospatial tasks, coactors exchange information about the performed actions to distribute task demands. In perceptual decision-making tasks, coactors exchange their confidence on their individual perceptual judgments to negotiate a joint decision. We argue that these differences can be explained by the task structure: coactors distribute task demands if a joint task allows for a spatial division and stimuli can be accurately processed by one individual. Otherwise, they perform the task individually and then integrate their individual judgments.


coordination; group benefits; joint action; social cognition; social interaction


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