What makes foreign policy teams tick: Explaining variation in group performance at geopolitical forecasting

Michael Horowitz, Brandon Michael Stewart, Dustin Tingley, Michael Bishop, Laura Resnick Samotin, Margaret Roberts, Welton Chang, Barbara Mellers, Philip Tetlock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


When do groups—be they countries, administrations, or other organizations—more or less accurately understand the world around themand assess political choices? Some argue that group decision-making processes often fail due to biases induced by groupthink. Others argue that groups, by aggregating knowledge, are better at analyzing the foreign policy world. To advance knowledge about the intersection of politics and group decision making, this paper draws on evidence from a multiyear geopolitical forecasting tournament with thousands of participants sponsored by the US government. We find that teams outperformed individuals in making accurate geopolitical predictions, with regression discontinuity analysis demonstrating specific teamwork effects.Moreover, structural topicmodels showthatmore cooperative teams outperformed less cooperative teams. These results demonstrate that information sharing through groups, cultivating reasoning to hedge against cognitive biases, and ensuring all perspectives are heard can lead to greater success for groups at forecasting and understanding politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1388-1404
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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