Nonsense, common sense, and science of expert performance: Talent and individual differences

Controversies surrounding nature and nurture determinants of expert/elite performance havearisen many times since antiquity, and remain sources of concern in the present day. Extremepositions on this controversy are fundamentally silly — both nature and nurture are necessarydeterminants of expert/elite performance, but neither alone represents a sufficient causalfactor. The central issues surrounding the so-called “talent myth” and the “deliberate practicetheory (also referred to as the “10,000 h rule”) are reviewed. Also provided is a discussion ofthe science of individual differences related to talent, the fundamental characteristics of talentand the role of talent in predicting individual differences in expert/elite performance. Finally, areview of the critical psychometric and statistical considerations for the prediction ofindividual differences in the acquisition of expert/elite performance is presented. Conclusionsfocus on how these various issues fit together, to provide an integrated view of the importanceof talent, but also the limitations of talent identification procedures for discovering whichindividuals will ultimately develop expert/elite levels of performance.