Picks & Pans: Expertise, Giftedness, and High Abilities

Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined by Scott Barry Kaufman (New York: Basic Books, 2013). (TS-3). Francis Galton and Alfred Binet’s research have influenced how we understand human intelligence and giftedness. Kaufman’s Ungifted examines more contemporary research such as the Cattell-Horn-Carroll model of cognitive abilities that I discovered in my Fluid Intelligence Working (30th June – 1st July 2012). This research transforms our understanding of innate talent versus the environment; the neuroscience of creativity; and education initiatives for cultivating giftedness and high abilities. Kaufman emphasises passion, mindset, self-regulation, openness to experience, and K. Anders Ericsson’s deliberate practice as important for self-growth. Kaufman also edited the recent collection The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent Or Practice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013) (TS-4) which collects recent research on expertise, giftedness, talent, and deliberate practice. Heidrun Stoeger, Abdullah Aljughaiman, and Bettina Harder’s collection Talent and Development (Berlin: LIT Verlag) (TS-4) summarises recent European research.


Beyond Knowledge: Extracognitive Aspects of Developing High Ability edited by Larisa V. Shavinina and Michel Ferrari (New York: Routledge, 2004). (TS-4). Studies of giftedness and high abilities usually emphasise the role of personality traits, micro-social factors (family, school, and significant others); macro-social factors (the cultural, economic, political, and social conditions you live in); and subjective norms. This book examines several extracognitive factors that lie beyond these traditional approaches: adaptation, ego-strength, unconscious affect (emotions), and creative discovery processes. Other chapters consider the role of deliberate practice, chance, creative genius, and wisdom traditions. Herein lies one facet of cultivating Left Hand Path sovereignty.


Genius Explained by Michael J.A. Howe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004). (TS-4). The late Howe was a leading researcher on genius, giftedness, and high abilities. Malcolm Gladwell cites Genius Explained in his book Outliers: The Story of Success (New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2008) (TS-3) on the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a child prodigy. (Gladwell also mentioned K. Anders Ericsson and William Chase’s respective research into deliberate practice and expertise, which also informed Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code and Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated.) Howe’s book examines the deliberate practice strategies, environment, and psychology of Charles Darwin, the Bronte sisters, Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and others. For Howe, deliberate practice, the environment, and chance are pivotal yet often overlooked in discussion of giftedness and innate talent.


Working Minds: A Practitioner’s Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis by Beth Crandall, Gary Klein, and Robert H. Hoffman (Boston, MA: MIT Press, 2006). (TS-3). Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) is a structured, analytical process to discover expertise, and to understand its cognitive and human factors. This book considers CTA methods (concept maps; experiments; interviews; and stories) with new domains (cognitive psychology and systems development in information technology); and applications for market research and program evaluation. CTA is part of the broader domain of cognitive engineering and human factors research, detailed in John D. Lee and Alex Kirlik’s Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Engineering (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013) (TS-4).


Accelerated Expertise: Training for High Proficiency in a Complex World by Robert H. Hoffman, Paul Ward, Paul J. Feltovich, Lia DiBello, Stephen M. Fiore, and Dee H. Andrews (New York and London: Psychology Press, 2013). (TS-4). K. Anders Ericsson’s pioneering work on deliberate practice emphasised the pivotal role of practice, training, and feedback. Accelerated Expertise provides an in-depth overview of how accelerated learning and deliberate practice techniques are now applied to rapidly cultivate skills and expertise. This might be a TS-1 book if you plan to utilise these techniques on a regular basis. Ruth C. Clark’s Building Expertise: Cognitive Methods for Training and Performance Improvement (San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2008) (TS-4) emphasises training and instructional design.


Expertise and Skill Acquisition: The Impact of William G. Chase edited by James J. Staszewski (New York and London: Psychology Press, 2013). (TS-4). In 1973, William Chase and Herbert Simon wrote an influential article on the skills acquisition strategies of grand chess masters. K. Anders Ericsson would cite Chase and Simon’s 10,000 hour rule in deliberate practice research, and Malcolm Gladwell popularised it in his book Outliers and New Yorker articles. This book examines Chase’s contributions to the development of expertise; the neuroscience of skill acquisition; and the role of skilled memory. It connects Chase’s research program to deliberate practice and cognitive engineering.


The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance edited by K. Anders Ericsson, Neil Charness, Paul J. Feltovich, and Robert R. Hoffman (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006). (TS-4). This Cambridge Handbook is a major advance of K. Anders Ericsson’s pioneering research on deliberate practice and cultivating expertise. It summarises the major theories and methods for understanding and studying expertise; and considers expertise in specific professional, art, sport, and game domains. The chapters on generalisable, mediating mechanisms consider the role of ageing, creativity, deliberate practice, intelligence, tacit knowledge, and other factors. The companion Cambridge Handbooks on Creativity, Intelligence, Learning Sciences, and Thinking and Reasoning are also highly recommended as advanced references. Ericsson’s deliberate practice research and its implications for training are explored further in Development of Professional Expertise: Toward Measurement of Expert Performance and Design of Optimal Learning Environments (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009) (TS-4). Shane Murphy’s Oxford Handbook of Sport and Performance Psychology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) (TS-4) explores expertise and expert performance in those domains. David Epstein’s The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance (New York: Current, 2013) (TS-3) critiques Ericsson’s deliberate practice as applied to elite athletes and sports performance. The combination of Ericsson’s deliberate practice, performance psychology, and elite sports training has been applied to other domains, such as Brett N. Steenbarger’s Enhancing Trader Performance: Proven Strategies From The Cutting Edge of Trading Psychology (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006) (TS-3), and the late Ari Kiev’s The Mental Strategies of Top Traders: The Psychological Determinants of Trading Success (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009) (TS-3).