Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, But It Helps

July 3, 2014 7:56 am 2 comments

And now the baPAFF_063014_practiceexpertise_newsfeature-1d news: if you’ve been playing a sport for 20 years and you’re not getting better, you probably never will. Practice can only do so much. How much, exactly, has been calculated by psychologists at Princeton University, who scoured the scientific literature for studies examining practice and performance in domains as diverse as music, games, sports, professions, and education. The Association for Psychological Science reports that, based on a meta-analysis of 88 studies that attempted to equate practice with expertise, the researchers found that overall, practice accounts for only about 12 percent of individual differences observed in performance across the various domains. What does make a difference? The researchers suggest that the age at which a person begins a particular activity matters, and oh yeah, “certain cognitive abilities” also play a role. Here’s the interesting part: the psychologists found that practice accounted for about 26 percent of individual differences in performance for games, about 21 percent of individual differences in music, and about 18 percent of individual differences in sports. But it only accounted for about 4 percent of individual differences in education and less than 1 percent of individual differences in performance in professions– like psychology.

2 Comments

  • So, does that last sentence mean that one does not have to “practice” being a psychologist to be good psychologist? Hmmmm.

  • Most of us geezers don’t pursue a sport or exercise regimen with the usually unattainable hope of being “perfect”. It’s usually for fun and fitness.

    If you’ve tried to be perfect at something for 20 or so years, maybe you ought to try something else or go see a “psychologist”. Hopefully you see one that has a real “practice” and doesn’t waste his/her time on questionable studies.

Leave a Reply


Recent Posts

  • Pain Women's Health How Mosquitoes Find You: Smell, Sight and Temperature

    How Mosquitoes Find You: Smell, Sight and Temperature

    How do mosquitoes find us before they bite us? Let me count the ways. One, they smell us, or more specifically, they smell the carbon dioxide that is exhaled every time we breathe out. Two, they also see us, or at least they use their eyes to detect dark objects, which are particularly attractive to mosquitoes who have already detected carbon dioxide. And three, they sense our body heat and move in our direction. How do we know this? Because […]

    Read more →
  • Pain How To Remove A Tick

    How To Remove A Tick

    Yes, ticks are creepy, especially when their pointy barbed heads are burrowed into your flesh. What to do? The Wall Street Journal has some advice, along with descriptions of several special tick removal devices that are, according to experts, no more effective at removing ticks than a good pair of fine-tipped tweezers. First, the journal warns, “although most tick-borne pathogens, including the one that causes Lyme disease, generally aren’t transmitted before the tick has been attached for at least 24 […]

    Read more →
  • Attitude Books Immediate Rewards Keep People Exercising

    Immediate Rewards Keep People Exercising

    Exercising to lose weight? Nice idea, unlikely reality. Exercising because it makes you feel good? Nicer idea, and one with a pretty good chance that you’ll actually follow through with it. That’s the thesis put forth by New York Times health columnist Jane Brody, who backs it up with personal experience and the wisdom of Michelle Segar, director of the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan. Segar, who is also the author of “No […]

    Read more →
  • Fitness Pain To Reverse Bone Loss; Squats With Weights

    To Reverse Bone Loss; Squats With Weights

    No, it doesn’t sound pleasant, but doing squats with weights has been shown to reverse bone loss in middle-aged men. Ditto for deadlifts, lunges and the overhead press, none of which is anywhere near as much fun as and good tennis game. A news release from the University of Missouri reports that researchers at the school studied 38 active, middle-aged men who completed either a weight-lifting program or a jumping program for a year. Both programs required 60-120 minutes of targeted exercises […]

    Read more →
  • Pain Non-Aspirin Painkillers Riskier Than Believed

    Non-Aspirin Painkillers Riskier Than Believed

    Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) pose a greater risk to heart health than had been believed. That’s the word from the FDA, which, according to the New York Times, will soon ask drug manufacturers to change the labels to reflect new evidence that the drugs increased the risk of heart attack and stroke soon after patients first started taking them. The Times quotes Dr. Peter Wilson, a professor of medicine and public health at Emory University in Atlanta, and a member […]

    Read more →
  • Fitness Pain Uncategorized Two Weeks of Inactivity = Muscle Loss of 40 Years

    Two Weeks of Inactivity = Muscle Loss of 40 Years

    Two weeks. That’s how long you have to be inactive to cause appreciable muscle loss. How much is loss that? According to researchers at the University of Copenhagen, young men who have one leg immobilized for two weeks lose up to a third of their muscular strength, and older people lose approximately one fourth. Yikes! Futurity reports on the research, and the site quotes Andreas Vigelsø, a PhD student at the U Copenhagen’s Center for Healthy Aging and the biomedical sciences department, saying […]

    Read more →
  • Pain Women's Health Men and Women Feel Pain Differently

    Men and Women Feel Pain Differently

    He hurts; she hurts, but she hurts differently–and probably more often. That’s the opinion of researchers at McGill University, who took a close look at the longstanding theory that pain is transmitted from the site of injury or inflammation through the nervous system using an immune system cell called microglia. Their research, yes, on mice, not humans, shows that this is only true in male mice. When the researchers altered the function of microglia in a variety of different ways, […]

    Read more →
  • Pain Do Knee Braces Do Anything Useful?

    Do Knee Braces Do Anything Useful?

    Do knee braces to anything useful? That’s the question put to New York Times health columnist Gretchen Reynolds. The answer, says Reynolds, is possibly, but it depends on the brace and on the injury. Reynolds quotes Dr. Robert A. Gallo, an associate professor of orthopedic sports medicine at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, saying that for each study that suggests wearing a knee brace can produce a clinical benefit in reducing pain or feelings of instability there usually is a counterstudy which demonstrates […]

    Read more →