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Sava Sergiu

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Sava Sergiu


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Tue, Aug 25, 2015 - 07:08 PM

Can a person really achieve expertise on wide range of domains/disciplines?

An other way to ask this is: Does the concept of polymath correspond to reality?


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Bo Bennett, PhD
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Bo Bennett, PhD

Host, Doctor of Social Psychology

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

I am the host of this show :) For my complete bio, please see http://www.bobennett.com.
PrintWed, Aug 26, 2015 - 02:57 PM
Yes, providing one's definition of "expertise" is not too restrictive. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the "10,000" hour rule in his pop psychology book, "Outliers." This "rule" states that one needs at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice/experience before one can be an expert at something. As usual, pop psychologists (those who make "rules" based on hunches or anecdotes) are wrong. Deliberate practice has been studied for decades by psychologists, and it is an area of complex research. Research shows that practice can be in one of many "domains," and within some domains (music, sports, professional, etc.) practice is more important than others. In a meta-analysis of 88 studies on deliberate practice, it was found that practice accounted for just a 12% difference in performance in various domains (Macnamara, Hambrick, & Oswald, 2014). This means that there is a whole lot of "something else" besides practice that leads to expertise, and it turns out that natural ability plays a large role. Given this, some people can become recognized experts in a given area far faster than others, and providing an individual has multiple natural abilities, they can certain achieve expertise on wide range of domains/disciplines.

References
Macnamara, B. N., Hambrick, D. Z., & Oswald, F. L. (2014). Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Science, 0956797614535810. http://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614535810

Bo Bennett, PhD
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