đź“–Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis

Macnamara, Brooke N. and Hambrick, David Z. and Oswald, Frederick L.
  • Critique of deliberate practice

    • Ignored decades of psychological theorizing (meh)

    • Deliberate practice might be correlated with success because we stop practicing what we’re not good at. (p.2)

    • Deliberate practice and talent are not mutually exclusive

    • The amount of deliberate practice for master-level chess players varies greatly (from ~3,000 to 23,000 hours)

    • (I haven’t done much deliberate practice with programming. perhaps besides contests)

  • Deliberate practice is important but not the sole factor (it only explains about one third)

  • Goals

    • Investigate correlation between deliberate practice and performance

    • Find factors that influence deliberate practice relevance

      • domain: music, games, sports, education, profession

      • predictability of environment (how much environment changes unpredictably under you while you perform the task)

        • (programming seems to be highly predictable environment)

      • methodological moderators: how deliberate practice was assessed in the original paper

  • 88 studies analyzed

  • Data: https://osf.io/rhfsk

  • Professions are the least-studied with only 7 studies and 321 people

    • Seems to only include non-solitary deliberate practice

  • Results:

    • In most studies, the correlation between deliberate practice and performance is positive. Only 10 (out of 157) showed negative correlation, and 8 of them were statistically insignificant (p < .05)

    • Variability explained by deliberate practice:

      • per domain

        • games 26%

        • music 21%

        • sports 18% (19% if team performance is excluded)

        • education 4%

          • primarily included students, where performance = grade

        • professions 1% (and not statistically significant)

      • predictability of task environment

        • high 24%

        • intermediate 12%

        • low 4%

      • by methodology

        • retrospective interview 20%

        • retrospective questionnaire 12%

        • log method 5%

          • (in Ericsson…1993 (original study) there was little correlation between good and best groups in terms of current practice per day—but best groups had more accumulative practice)

      • how assessed

  • theory

    • low correlation in professions might be explained by lack of well-defined deliberate practices for professions

    • Starting age negatively predicts performance in chess (even after statistically controlling for deliberate practice)

    • General intelligence might explain some performance results

    • Another predictor might be working memory capacity

  • Q:

    • the study seems to cram in different methodologies. According to Ericsson…1993, only accumulated practice matters, so log method is off the table (?)

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