- Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert?
- Natural Talent: Not Important
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- Practice makes perfect, but mastery might require something more than 10,000 hours of trying.
- 10,000 Hours of Practice
- Violins in Berlin
Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert?
All rights reserved. Keep practicing, and you might become an expert. Or maybe you won't. Who knows? Not the experts, suggests a raging debate. Underlying arguments over whether winners are made or born, or over nature versus nurture, the disagreement points to deep uncertainty about who should receive expert instruction and how best to teach people to excel. The question is whether that is all there is to it.
Natural Talent: Not Important
Kicking off the fracas, a study published last May in the journal Intelligence by Hambrick and colleagues suggested that practice explains only about a third of success among musician and chess masters. A series of responses to the study have since appeared in the journal, which is generally seen as a bastion of researchers who argue over the meaning of I.
The debate climaxed last month in the journal with the original study's authors' reply to a reply from psychologist K. Ericsson is best known for the research on premiere violinists touted in Gladwell's book, which credited the rule to Ericsson and other previous research efforts. The debate was the latest skirmish in a long-running fight over the amount of practice needed in sports and other endeavors.
Gladwell summed up the idea behind his deliberate practice rule as, given enough motivation, "if you are smart enough to get through college, you can be a good cardiac surgeon.
In last year's Intelligence study, Hambrick's team looked again at case studies of master musicians and chess players, the subjects of Ericsson's research. After quizzing the players on their lifetime hours of deliberate practice as opposed to performances or play , they concluded that practice accounted for only 30 percent of success in music and 34 percent in chess. They also found wide variability in the hours of practice.
Chess grand masters had put in from to 24, hours of work, although the average was around 10, hours.
10,000 Hours to Become Massively Successful - 10,000 Hour Rule Explained!
Musicians' efforts ranged from 10, to 30, hours. The variability in hours of practice washes away any meaning from the 10,hour rule , Hambrick suggests. In his response , Ericsson says that this kind of critique inappropriately mixes data about less-skilled folks into the analysis. He also notes that he wrote about this kind of variability in practice in a British Journal of Sports Medicine editorial : "There is nothing magical about 10, hours.
Hambrick counters that Ericsson's reliance on only a few supreme performers for his studies of expertise turns the studies into anecdotes. To some extent, says psychologist Phillip Ackerman of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, expertise studies are butting up against the limitations of social science research, where the study variables—human beings—are more squirrelly than are the uniformly behaving atomic particles or molecules of the physical sciences.
Haunting the 10,hour rule argument are the specters of two influential, but discredited, scientists.
The first, Francis Galton , the 19th-century father of eugenics, argued that heredity essentially explained all talent and expertise. Galton's racist ideas inspired the Nazi's horrific notions of racial purity. The second, John Watson , the earlyth-century father of behaviorism, argued,.
To his credit, Watson acknowledged he was "going beyond the facts" in this contention.
But his s advice on child-rearing led some to treat their children with emotional detachment, which was terrible advice for parents. Today's 10,hour rule debate is often pitched as a fight over which of these extremes, nature or nurture, is more important when it comes to acquiring expertise.
And the participants in the debate often paint their opponents as taking an extreme view of how expertise is acquired. Gladwell, for example, said at the MIT debate that Ericsson is guilty of "expanding and stretching" the 10,hour rule toward being an absolute, far from his own view of it as more of a principle for people prescreened for aptitude for a skill.
Practice makes perfect, but mastery might require something more than 10,000 hours of trying.
Last year, he wrote in The New Yorker that complaints about his book "makes me think that there is another Malcolm Gladwell out there, with far more eccentric views than mine.
Ericsson notes that Gladwell's book mistakes the average of 10, hours that experts took to master a skill described in his research with the total they required. Aside from obvious genes for height or body size that help people in sports such as basketball, Ericsson says his real position is simply that he doesn't see evidence for genes that help people acquire expert levels of performance, as Epstein's book on elite athletes describes.
In the era of the human genome, he argues against a stampede toward genetic explanations for things. Hambrick and other 10,hour critics see this as "moving the goalposts" in a scientific debate, backpedaling from an earlier strong position to a weaker one while refusing to concede.
Plenty of studies suggest that aside from practice hours, individual differences help explain success, Georgia Tech's Ackerman says in Intelligence.
10,000 Hours of Practice
Such differences range from socioeconomics to coaching to I. A Psychology of Sport and Exercise journal study out on March 3, for example, found no difference between the number of hours practiced among kids who grew up to be professional soccer players and kids who didn't.
One fear Ericsson expresses is that if talent is viewed as somehow innate and not the result of practice, disadvantaged kids will be cut off from opportunities in education and sports. On the other hand, Ackerman worries that telling people they just need to practice more might set them up for failure: "The odds are pretty good, but not impossible, that if you have an I.
Practice, then, is just one more ingredient in success. Aside from our reflexes, everything is learned in one way or the other," Ackerman says. Correction: The original story incorrectly attributed author David Epstein's first name. Read Caption. Practice makes perfect, but mastery might require something more than 10, hours of trying.
By Dan Vergano , National Geographic. The big difference between them was the amount of good coaching they received at a young age.
Violins in Berlin
The participants in the disagreement often voice two opposing concerns. Follow Dan Vergano on Twitter. Continue Reading.