A Nice Article About Anders Ericsson

The Australian has an excellent profile of Anders Ericsson, a psychology professor and Freakonomics favorite who has done seminal research on talent.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Ericsson well when we both spent a year visiting Stanford’s Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences six or seven years ago. His research was the inspiration for the most popular New York Times column that Dubner and I ever wrote, “A Star is Made.” Ericsson’s work also plays a large role in Macolm Gladwell‘s book Outliers.

talent vs. creativty

a star may be made, an original idea is born. That requires gifts- talent is not enough---as one other gifted friend pointed out and another left to be inferred -

My preference--giving gifts.


Sometime in the late 1980s sociologist Daniel Chambliss made a similar argument in a paper comparing different levels of swimmers, published in Sociological Theory. In arguing that talent is overrated, Chambliss focuses less on the amount of practice and more on qualitative differences in how swimmers at different levels practice. Still, every time I hear a description of Ericsson's work, it sounds like there are some strong parallels with Chambliss's paper. I hope that Chambliss is at least cited!


I aggre in most parts of Anders Ericsson's work. But what happens when you don't know what you love so that you may follow it. Besides it was Confucius who said"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. "

How do you find what you love?I think that's the hardest question to answer.


Hate to be a party killer, but it seems like the deliberate practice is a very costly process. Especially since the outcome of the process is still uncertain, and, if the theory is right, and there is no innate ability, the proceeds should get competed away unless you are the top guy or there are decreasing returns to scale.

Is it worth it (ex ante)? Why/why not, and for whom? An important question for parents...

How about welfare? If we don't believe in noisy measurements of innate ability, we might end up having some mixed strategies with lots of people wasting resources on deliberate practice. Whereas if there is no innate ability and there is some (wrong) proxy for it that people follow, there would be less people wasting resources. It is just one possible outcome, but not a very good one.