Hambrick et al. (2014). Deliberate practice: Is that all it takes to become an expert?

Fascinating critique of Ericsson and deliberate practice (h/t Bokhove).  Analysing music and chess, they find that deliberate practice explains some, but far from all of the variation in expert performance.

For example, deliberate practice explains 34% of variation in chess, leaving 66% unexplained:

Hambrick 1.png

Likewise, it explains 30% variation in music Hambrick 2.png

This is not to say deliberate practice is ‘wrong’ – it makes a big difference, but it leaves an even bigger difference still unexplained and perhaps attributable to starting age, working memory, IQ or genes.

Hambrick 3.png

Popular claims by Gladwell and Syed, like 10,000 hours and it’s all about practice and nothing else, are not true.

Hambrick 4.png

Hambrick 6.png

Ultimately, deliberate practice is still the most powerful way we know to improve our performance: but we will not become superpeople in a particular field automatically.

Hambrick, D., Oswald, F., Altmann, E., Meinz, E., Gobet, F. and Campitelli, G. (2014). Deliberate practice: Is that all it takes to become an expert?. Intelligence, 45, pp.34-45.

See also this New Yorker piece from Maria Konnikova, summarising these arguments.

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