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Front. Ecol. Evol. | doi: 10.3389/fevo.2018.00016

The Influence of Social Information and Self-Expertise on Emergent Task Allocation in Virtual Groups

 Shinnosuke Nakayama1, David Diner1, Jacob G. Holland2,  Guy Bloch2,  Maurizio Porfiri1 and Oded Nov3*
  • 1Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, New York University, United States
  • 2Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • 3Department of Technology Management and Innovation, New York University, United States

Dynamic group coordination facilitates adaptive division of labor in response to group-level changes. Yet, little is known about how it can be operationalized in online collaborations among individuals with limited information about each other. We hypothesized that simple social information about the task distribution of others can elicit emergent task allocation. We conducted an online experiment where participants analyze images of a polluted canal by freely switching between two tasks: creating keyword-based tags for images and categorizing existing tags. During the task execution, we presented experimentally manipulated information about the contrasting group-level task distributions. Participants did not change the effort allocation between the tasks when they were notified that the group deficits workers in the task they intrinsically prefer. By contrast, they allocated more effort to the less preferred task than they would intrinsically do when their intrinsic effort allocation counterbalances the current distribution of workers in the group. Such behavioral changes were observed more strongly among those with higher skills in the less preferred task. Our results demonstrate the possibility of optimizing group coordination through design interventions at the individual level that lead to spontaneous adaption of division of labor at the group level. When participants were provided information about the group-level task distribution, they tend to allocate more effort to the task against their intrinsic preference.

Keywords: behavioral plasticity, citizen science, collective behavior, content creation, Content curation, crowdsourcing, division of labor

Received: 20 Dec 2017; Accepted: 06 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Simon Garnier, New Jersey Institute of Technology, United States

Reviewed by:

Takao Sasaki, Arizona State University, United States
Mehdi Moussaid, Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPG), Germany  

Copyright: © 2018 Nakayama, Diner, Holland, Bloch, Porfiri and Nov. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Oded Nov, New York University, Department of Technology Management and Innovation, 5 MetroTech Center, New York City, 11201, NY, United States, onov@nyu.edu