Teamwork and Its Ability to Make Us Smarter




Motivation/Mutual Interest





Coaches have countless methods to promote team-building exercises in order to encourage unity, yet despite the ease of association between the two, teamwork is not limited to sports teams. Teamwork can be seen in many settings around Dream BIG, from forming alliances in flag football to helping a counselor silence the group or even just to holding the door open for another. The benefits of teamwork are not limited to the present moment or even limited to the group, scientists say that teamwork can also positively affect individuals in the long run.

Inherent in teamwork is the ability for people to interact well with others, responding appropriately to physical and auditory cues. When we are born, all we are able to react to are our own internal cues, such as hunger or fatigue, but as we grow we learn not only how to express ourselves in multiple ways, but also how to properly react to thousands of external cues from parents, friends and strangers. This is how we begin to form complex relationships. Humans are unique in the way that we interact with one another – no other species has the ability to form as many complex relationships to the same depth we do. To be a good team player it is necessary to create and utilize these complex relationships.

A recent study, conducted with artificial organisms, found that teamwork improves both “brain size and the development of the human intellect.” “The idea … has been around since the mid-70s, but support for this hypothesis has come largely from correlative studies where large brains were observed in more social animals.” This study was the first to demonstrate that evolution favored those who can form multiple complex relationships. Such relationships call on our abilities to demonstrate “complex memory and decision making,” an effort which can improve these skills over time. Simply stated, teamwork and “cooperation actually makes us smarter!”

Though in our society leadership and independence are still highly praised, one cannot hope to succeed without being a good team player. Everyone depends on other people; whether that involves accumulating knowledge, creating, or decreasing the time needed for tedious tasks. Through teamwork it is possible to create something much more fantastic than one would be able to do alone. As Aristotle said, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”


Findings come from the study “How Social Interaction and Teamwork Led to Human Intelligence” posted in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.