Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Becoming an expert takes more than practice

Date:
July 2, 2014
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Deliberate practice may not have nearly as much influence in building expertise as we thought, according to research. The new study indicates that the amount of practice accumulated over time does not seem to play a huge role in accounting for individual differences in skill or performance.

Deliberate practice may not have nearly as much influence in building expertise as we thought, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Scientists have been studying and debating whether experts are "born" or "made" since the mid-1800s. In recent years, deliberate practice has received considerable attention in these debates, while innate ability has been pushed to the side, due in part to the famous "10,000-hour rule" coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book Outliers.

The new study, from psychological scientist Brooke Macnamara of Princeton University and colleagues, offers a counterpoint to this recent trend, suggesting that the amount of practice accumulated over time does not seem to play a huge role in accounting for individual differences in skill or performance.

"Deliberate practice is unquestionably important, but not nearly as important as proponents of the view have claimed," says Macnamara.

Macnamara, with colleagues David Z. Hambrick of Michigan State University and Frederick Oswald of Rice University, scoured the scientific literature for studies examining practice and performance in domains as diverse as music, games, sports, professions, and education.

Of the many studies they found, 88 met specific criteria, including a measure of accumulated practice and a measure of performance, and an estimate of the magnitude of the observed effect.

The researchers took the 88 studies and performed a "meta-analysis," pooling all of the data from the studies to examine whether specific patterns emerged.

Nearly all of the studies showed a positive relationship between practice and performance: The more people reported having practice, the higher their level of performance in their specific domain.

Overall, practice accounted for only about 12% of individual differences observed in performance across the various domains.

However, the domain itself seemed to make a difference. Practice accounted for about 26% of individual differences in performance for games, about 21% of individual differences in music, and about 18% of individual differences in sports. But it only accounted for about 4% of individual differences in education and less than 1% of individual differences in performance in professions.

Furthermore, the findings showed that the effect of practice on performance was weaker when practice and performance were measured in more precise ways, such as using practice time logs and standardized measures of performance.

"There is no doubt that deliberate practice is important, from both a statistical and a theoretical perspective. It is just less important than has been argued," says Macnamara. "For scientists, the important question now is, what else matters?"

Macnamara and colleagues speculate that the age at which a person becomes involved in an activity may matter, and that certain cognitive abilities such as working memory may also play an influential role. The researchers are planning another meta-analysis focused specifically on practice and sports in order to better understand the role of these and other factors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. N. Macnamara, D. Z. Hambrick, F. L. Oswald. Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0956797614535810

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Becoming an expert takes more than practice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702111033.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2014, July 2). Becoming an expert takes more than practice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702111033.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Becoming an expert takes more than practice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702111033.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) A new study shows stress at work can be hard on your health, but people who are unemployed might be at even greater risk of health problems. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Sometimes the signs of a stroke are far from easy to recognize. Learn from one young father’s story on the signs of a stroke. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Could eating carbohydrates be harmful to our brain health? Find out what one neurologist says about changing our diets. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:
from the past week

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