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.
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David Z. Hambrick
is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University. He is the
author of over 60 scientific articles and chapters, and an associate editor of the Journal of Experimental
Psychology: General. He received his Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2000, and is a
Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. Dr. Hambrick has written for The New York Times,
Slate, and Scientific American.
is a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology and Social Science at Edith Cowan
University (Australia). In 2015, he was lead editor for a special issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
on expertise. He has published widely in top journals such as Human Brain Mapping, Intelligence,
Developmental Psychology, Current Directions in Psychological Science, and Cognitive Science. He
received his Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham in 2003.
is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Case
Western Reserve University. She has published her work in Psychological Science, Perspectives on
Psychological Science, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, among other top journals. She received her Ph.D.
from Princeton University in 2014, and was the recipient of Doctoral Dissertation Research award from
the National Science Foundation. Her 2014 article “The Relationship Between Deliberate Practice and
Performance in Games, Music, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis” was one of the 5
most downloaded Psychological Science articles in 2014.