Magazine article Psychology Today

What Makes a Pro?

Magazine article Psychology Today

What Makes a Pro?

Article excerpt

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, right? Well, yes and no. "It is definitely an important piece of the puzzle," says Zach Hambrick, a cognitive psychologist at Michigan State University, "but it's not the only piece, and not necessarily the largest."

In the journal Psychological Bulletin, Hambrick and colleagues highlighted the growing evidence that, contrary to a long-standing theory, the amount of focused practice that musicians, chess players, and others rack up does not sufficiently explain the difference in their skill levels. One study of twins, for example, found that genetics accounted for roughly a quarter of differences in musical achievement, largely independent of how much the subjects reported practicing.

Hambrickand other researchers propose a model of expertise in which intensive practice and natural gifts work together-and greatness depends on heritable factors like intelligence and personality in addition to hard work. …

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