IIM Calcutta

Oscar predictions & Collective Choice

By Arun Ramachandran for ‘C’nema Paradiso

A friend recently recommended a book written by James Surowiecki – The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. The author talks about how as a collective we are good at arriving at better decisions than as single members of a group. On a related note, we, at ‘C’nema Paradiso, carried out a little exercise to gauge the mood before the Oscars at IIM-C and, more importantly, how well it could predict the Oscars. With 104 students voting, James Surowiecki would be proud on seeing the voting results.

If left to us we would have got right 4 out of the 6 categories which went for poll last week. However, we were not so keen on showing The Kings Speech the same love that the Oscar jury showed yesterday.
Results vs Predictions

But as individuals, our understanding of the minds of the Oscar jury needs further refining for sure. Only 3 out of 104 people were able to predict correctly all the 6 categories. Kudos to Ankit Kumar, Rohit Gupta & Anand Prakash for this feat! 8 people predicted all except 1 rightly and 10 got all except 2. This means that only 20% of the junta here did as good as or did better than the collective voice of IIM C. Hail Democracy!

Other Highlights

The biggest highlight from the polls is the overwhelming support that Natalie Portman received from jokaites with 97% votes favouring her. 2 guys preferred Annette Bening & 1 preferred Nicole Kidman, over Natalie Portman. You might be very well the Outliers of Malcolm Gladwell!

Priyanka’s predictions, which can be read from here, were prophetic. Except that she got the one on the Best Director wrong, as did the majority of the IIM C junta. Tom Hooper, the eventual winner, was a distant 3rd in our poll gaining favour of just 15% of our students where as David Fincher got 43% and Aronofsky got 28% votes.
The average movie enthusiast did make his/her liking for Inception quite clear by voting heavily in favour of it in the Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and the Best Achievement in Visual Effects categories.
Best Achievement in Visual EffectsBest Original Screenplay
The Dunno! Option

Is there anything that IIM grads do not know??? Of the total 624 responses (624 = 104 respondents * 6 questions) only 40 were Dunno!s. For those weak on Quant & DI, this is a meagre 6%. Though everyone was sure about their choice of Best Actor, 13% were clueless on who will win the Oscar for Costume Design.

Increase Confidence Level QuestionIncrease Confidence Level Question

This was an option wherein we told “To increase your chances of winning, select the question you are most confident about.” And it did boost confidence levels. Natalie Portman re-established her position as IIM C’s favourite for any award. With 38% of the junta saying that they were extremely confident on her winning an Oscar.

Why this makes for a good case study on The Wisdom Crowds can be seen from the criteria laid down by Suroweicki to separate wise crowds from irrational ones. They are
– Diversity of Opinion (Each person should have private information even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts)
– Independence (People’s opinions aren’t determined by the opinions of those around them)
– Decentralization (People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge)
– Aggregation (Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision)

We are probably a wise crowd, seen from the above exercise! Bring in more collectivism!!!

~ If you, dear reader, are interested in amusing yourself and have little else to do in life, and want access to raw data for the predictions made, or this could in any way be helpful for some research that you are pursuing (we sincerely hope not! :P), we’d be only to glad to share the raw data with you. You can get in touch with us at cnemaparadiso.iimc@gmail.com.
~ Special thanks to Ramana K for suggesting the book The Wisdom of Crowds!
~ My last contri to ‘C’nema Paradiso as a student!


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