Collaboration works… but beware pitfalls

David Cameron and Nick Clegg may take heart from a new study showing two heads really can be better than one. But another finding might make the Tory and Lib Dem coalition leaders pause for thought.

Solving problems together only works when both partners are equally competent and freely discuss their disagreements, say the research authors.

Professor Chris Frith, of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, one of the researchers whose findings appear in the journal Science, said: "When two people working together can discuss their disagreements, two heads can be better than one. But when one person is working with flawed information — or perhaps is less able at their job — this can have a very negative effect on the outcome.

"Being able to work together successfully requires that we know how competent we are. Joint decisions don't work when a member of the team is incompetent, but doesn't know it.," Prof Frith added.

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