Phenomenological theory of collective decision-making

Anna Zafeiris, Zsombor Koman, Enys Mones, Tamas Vicsek

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

202 Downloads (Pure)


An essential task of groups is to provide efficient solutions for the complex problems they face. Indeed, considerable efforts have been devoted to the question of collective decision-making related to problems involving a single dominant feature. Here we introduce a quantitative formalism for finding the optimal distribution of the group members’ competences in the more typical case when the underlying problem is complex, i.e., multidimensional. Thus, we consider teams that are aiming at obtaining the best possible answer to a problem having a number of independent sub-problems. Our approach is based on a generic scheme for the process of evaluating the proposed solutions (i.e., negotiation). We demonstrate that the best performing groups have at least one specialist for each sub-problem — but a far less intuitive result is that finding the optimal solution by the interacting group members requires that the specialists also have some insight into the sub-problems beyond their unique field(s). We present empirical results obtained by using a large-scale database of citations being in good agreement with the above theory. The framework we have developed can easily be adapted to a variety of realistic situations since taking into account the weights of the sub-problems, the opinions or the relations of the group is straightforward. Consequently, our method can be used in several contexts, especially when the optimal composition of a group of decision-makers is designed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Pages (from-to)287-298
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Collective behavior
  • Decision-making
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Optimal decisions


Dive into the research topics of 'Phenomenological theory of collective decision-making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this