Featured Book
The Science of Expertise:
Behavioral, Neural, and Genetic Approaches to Complex Skill

        Who rises to the top in music, sports, games, business, science, and other complex domains? This is a question that parents, teachers, coaches, talent scouts, and search committees all seek to answer—and one of enduring fascination to psychologists. Indeed, the question of whether experts are “born” or “made” is the subject of what is arguably psychology’s oldest debate. Particularly in the past decade, there has been an explosion of scientific interest in this issue. Research on expertise has also captured the popular imagination through books such as Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which has been on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly 200 weeks.

        Offering the broadest review of psychological perspectives on human expertise to date, this volume covers behavioral, computational, neural, and genetic approaches to understanding complex skill. The chapters show how performance in music, the arts, sports, games, medicine, and other domains reflects basic traits such as personality and intelligence, as well as knowledge and skills acquired through training. In doing so, this book moves the field of expertise beyond the duality of "nature vs. nurture" toward an integrative understanding of complex skill.


Quick Links
Learn More
Check out our latest publications.
Get to know the research team.
What do we do?

We study the origins of skill in domains such as music, science, chess, and sports.

Welcome to the Expertise Lab at Michigan State University.

Select Publications

Hambrick et al. (2018)

Toward a Multifactorial Model of Expertise: Beyond Born Versus Made
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

Sala et al. (2017)

Checking the “Academic Selection” Argument. Chess Players Outperform Non-Chess Players in Cognitive Skills Related to Intelligence: A Meta-Analysis
Intelligence.

Macnamara et al. (2016)

The Relationship Between Deliberate Practice and Performance in Sports: A Meta-Analysis
Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Burgoyne et al. (2016)

The Relationship between Cognitive Ability and Chess Skill: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis
Intelligence.

Macnamara et al. (2016)

How Important is Deliberate Practice? Reply to Ericsson (2016)
Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Hambrick et al. (2016)

Beyond Born Versus Made: A New Look at Expertise
Psychology of Learning and Motivation.

Ullén et al. (2015)

Rethinking Expertise: A Multifactorial Gene–Environment Interaction Model of Expert Performance
Psychological Bulletin.

Hambrick & Hoffman (2016)

Expertise: A second look.
IEEE Intelligent Systems.

Hambrick et al. (2014)

The Genetics of Music Accomplishment: Evidence for Gene–Environment Correlation and Interaction
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Hambrick et al. (2014)

Deliberate Practice: is that all it takes to become an Expert?
Intelligence.

Hambrick et al. (2014)

Accounting for Expert Performance: The Devil is in the Details
Intelligence.

Macnamara et al. (2014)

Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis
Psychological Science.

Hambrick et al. (2012)

A Test of the Circumvention-of-Limits Hypothesis in Scientific Problem Solving: The Case of Geological Bedrock Mapping
Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Hambrick et al. (2014)

Facing Facts about Deliberate Practice
Frontiers in Psychology.

Meinz & Hambrick (2010)

Deliberate Practice Is Necessary but Not Sufficient to Explain Individual Differences in Piano Sight-Reading Skill: The Role of Working Memory Capacity
Psychological Science.

Hambrick & Meinz (2011)

Limits on the Predictive Power of Domain-Specific Experience and Knowledge in Skilled Performance
Current Directions in Psychological Science.

In The News
Scientific American Zach Hambrick Fredrick Ullen Miriam Mosing
September 20, 2016

Is Innate Talent a Myth?

It’s appealing to think that “all it takes is a lot of practice,” but the factors behind elite performance are more complicated than that.

New York Times Zach Hambrick Expertise Alex Burgoyne
November 19, 2011

Sorry, Strivers; Talent Matters

How do people acquire high levels of skill in science, business, music, the arts and sports? This has long been a topic of intense debate in psychology.

Huffington Post Zach Hambrick Expertise
March 13, 2012

Are Experts Born or Made?

Why do some people learn complex skills with apparent ease, and ultimately reach expert levels of performance, while others struggle...

Psychology Today Zach Hambrick Expertise
September 4, 2014

The Right Stuff

Many researchers believe the focus on practice—as essential as it is—has overshadowed other key factors behind expertise and performance.

When quantity is not enough: Disentangling the roles of practice time, self-regulation and deliberate practice in musical achievement

Bonneville-Roussy and Bouffard (2014)

Past research has referred to either the concepts of self-regulation or deliberate practice to explain the relationships between learning strategies and musical achievement and performance. In addition, even though most scholars agree that formal practice time plays an important role in musical achievement, empirical investigations have failed to show consistent associations between practice time and achievement.

Artists as experts in visual cognition: An update

Dr. Rebecca Chamberlain - Goldsmiths, University of London

The question of whether and how visual artists see the world differently than non-artists has long engaged researchers and scholars in the arts, sciences, and humanities."


March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos

A physicist and best-selling author, Dr. Hawking did not allow his physical limitations to hinder his quest to answer “the big question: Where did the universe come from?”
Article by Dennis Overbye
Photograph by Terry Smith/Time Life Pictures, via Getty Images


Presentations