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Jul 04, 2014 07:20 AM EDT

Practise Might not Make a Person Perfect

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Princeton University researchers have found that multiple practise sessions have little influence on developing expertise.

Scientists have long been debating whether experts are "born" or "made." In recent years, deliberate practice has received considerable attention in these debates, partly due to the "10,000-hour rule" devised in Malcolm Gladwell's 2008 book "Outliers." The book highlights the role of practice in attaining success in any field.

However, the new study claims that the amount of practice is not directly proportional to building skill or performance in domains including music, games, sports, professions and education.

In the study, the role of deliberate practice (aimed to improve performance) in an individual performance was only about 12 percent.

"Deliberate practice is unquestionably important, but not nearly as important as proponents of the view have claimed," said psychological scientist Brooke Macnamara in a statement.

For the study, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis on 88 studies to determine the relationship between practise and performance in different domains.

Researchers found that all the studies showed a positive relationship between practise and performance. The more an individual practised, the better the performance was.

When looking at individual domains, practice was associated with about 26 percent of individual differences in performance for games like chess and Scrabble; about 21 percent in music like the piano and violin, and about 18 percent in sports like soccer and wrestling.

However, deliberate practise was only accounted for about 4 percent of individual differences in education like undergraduate psychology class and less than 1 percent in professions like soccer refereeing and computer programming.

"There is no doubt that deliberate practice is important, from both a statistical and a theoretical perspective. It is just less important than has been argued," Macnamara said. "For scientists, the important question now, is what else matters?"

The study titled "Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education and Professions: A Meta-Analysis," is published in the journal Psychological Science.

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