Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research sheds light on origins of greatness

Date:
October 6, 2011
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
In a provocative new paper, an expert suggests working memory capacity -- which is closely related to general intelligence -- may sometimes be the deciding factor between being good and being great.

What makes people great? Popular theorists such as the New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell and the New York Times' David Brooks argue that intelligence plays a role -- but only up to a point. Beyond that, they say, it's practice, practice, practice.

Zach Hambrick agrees with the practice argument -- imagine where Bill Gates would be if he hadn't honed his programming skills, after all -- but the Michigan State University scientist takes exception to the view that intelligence plays no role in determining excellence.

In a provocative new paper, Hambrick suggests working memory capacity -- which is closely related to general intelligence -- may sometimes be the deciding factor between good and great.

In a series of studies, Hambrick and colleagues found that people with higher levels of working memory capacity outperformed those with lower levels -- and even in individuals with extensive experience and knowledge of the task at hand. The studies analyzed complex tasks such as piano sight reading.

"While the specialized knowledge that accumulates through practice is the most important ingredient to reach a very high level of skill, it's not always sufficient," said Hambrick, associate professor of psychology. "Working memory capacity can still predict performance in complex domains such as music, chess, science, and maybe even in sports that have a substantial mental component such as golf."

In the paper, which appears in the research journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, Hambrick notes that both Gladwell and Brooks wrote bestselling books that make the argument that intelligence only goes so far.

"A person with a 150 IQ is in theory much smarter than a person with a 120 IQ, but those additional 30 points produce little measurable benefit when it comes to lifetime success," Brooks writes in "The Social Animal."

Hambrick's response: "David Brooks and Malcolm Gladwell are simply wrong. The evidence is quite clear: A high level of intellectual ability puts a person at a measurable advantage -- and the higher the better."

Research has shown that intelligence has both genetic and environmental origins, Hambrick said, yet "for a very long time we have tried and failed to come up with ways to boost people's intelligence."

Hambrick and his fellow researchers continue to study the issue. "The jury's still out on whether you can improve your general intelligence," he said. "We hold out hope that cognitive training of some sort may produce these benefits. But we have yet to find the magic bullet."

Hambrick co-authored the paper with Elizabeth Meinz of Southern Illinois University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Z. Hambrick, E. J. Meinz. Limits on the Predictive Power of Domain-Specific Experience and Knowledge in Skilled Performance. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2011; 20 (5): 275 DOI: 10.1177/0963721411422061

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Research sheds light on origins of greatness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005143726.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2011, October 6). Research sheds light on origins of greatness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005143726.htm
Michigan State University. "Research sheds light on origins of greatness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005143726.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins