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Expertise and Broadbrushing

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Several factors influence either expert performance or the development of

expertise. Is personality, genetics, luck, or some other factor the primary

reason that some people become experts? Why?


“Several factors influence either expert performance or the development of expertise. Is personality, genetics, luck, or some other factor the primary reason that some people become experts? Why?”

This is a layered question, and it will likely yield interesting responses from the class. This is my take on the situation: Although personality, genetics, luck and other attributes may seemingly influence the area of expertise, I do not believe that any of these stand-alone attributes/qualities can automatically prequalify someone to become an expert. This is akin to stereotyping. Are all 6-foot tall male seventh-graders prone to play in the NBA? Does everyone who bears the last name Sinatra automatically get carte blanche to musical acclaim and excellence? Is every child growing up in the Dominican Republic unquestionably seen as superior to his non-Latin counterpart in his path to becoming a pro baseball player? My answer is an emphatic 'no'.


When we journey to the land called 'expertise' it supersedes any and all of the attributes that were mentioned above. In my opinion, expertise is a matter of execution, repeating, and refining execution, only to be repeated again with uncanny precision. A young girl’s parents, although highly intelligent, cannot ultimately dictate her ability to become an expert in any subject. In the same vein, a legendary athlete's children are not guaranteed to even be seemingly average in the sport their parents played (we see this all the time). Ultimately, expertise is a matter of 'doing'. Ericsson & Williams (2007) postulate that the activity most closely related to level of performance for proverbial experts was the amount of time they spent in solitary practice. There has to be extended

periods of execution, hands-on time, and experiential bouts of failure and success. Furthermore, the individual in question often needs resources, including good teachers and respectable facilities, in order to maximize their practice (Coughlan et al, 2013).


References:

Coughlan, E. K., Williams, A., McRobert, A. P., & Ford, P. R. (2013). How Experts Practice: A Novel Test of Deliberate Practice Theory. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, And Cognition, 40(2), doi:10.1037/a0034302


Ericsson, K., & Williams, A. (2007). Capturing naturally occurring superior performance in the laboratory: Translational research on expert performance. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 13(3), 115-123. doi:10.1037/1076-898X.13.3.115

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