Episode 66 – Anders Ericsson Ph.D. M.D. – The Science of Expertise


ERICSSON, K. ANDERS Ph.D. M.D. , is Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. In 1976 he received his Ph. D. in Psychology from University of Stockholm, Sweden, followed by post-doctoral fellowship at Carnegie-Mellon University. In 1980 he moved to University of Colorado at Boulder, where he remained until 1992 with the exception of a two-year leave during 1987-89 at the Max-Planck Institute for Human Development and Education in Berlin. His dissertation examined how verbal reports on cognitive processes provided insight into the structure of problem solving on the 8-puzzle.

Ericsson’s research with Herbert A. Simon on verbal reports of thinking is summarized in a book Protocol Analysis: Verbal Reports as Data, which was revised in 1993. With Bill Chase, he developed the Theory of Skilled Memory based on detailed analyses of acquired exceptional memory performance (Chase, W. G., & Ericsson, K. A. (1982). Skill and working memory. In G. H. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation, (Vol. 16). New York: Academic Press). One of his most striking experimental results was training a student to have a digit span of more than 100 digits. With Walter Kintsch, he extended this theory into long-term memory to account for the superior working memory of expert performers and memory experts (Ericsson & Kintsch 1995)

Currently, Ericsson studies expert performance in domains such as medicine, music, chess, and sports, focusing exclusively on extended deliberate practice (e.g., high concentration practice beyond one’s comfort zone) as a means of how expert performers acquire their superior performance. Critically, Ericsson’s program of research serves as a direct complement to other research that addresses cognitive ability, personality, interests, and other factors that help researchers understand and predict deliberate practice and expert performance. In the domain of deliberate practice, Ericsson published an edited book with Jacqui Smith Toward a General Theory of Expertise in 1991 and edited a book The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports and Games that appeared in 1996, as well as a collection edited with Janet Starkes Expert Performance in Sports: Recent Advances in Research on Sport Expertise in 2003.


The four main areas of the research Anders is conducting are:

1. The Acquisition of Expert Performance and Deliberate Practice 2. Professional Development 3. Superior Memory of Experts and Long-Term Working Memory (LTWM) 4. Protocol analysis and Verbal Reports on Thinking


About Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise:

From the world’s reigning expert on expertise comes a powerful new approach to mastering almost any skill.

Have you ever wanted to learn a language or pick up an instrument, only to become too daunted by the task at hand? Expert performance guru Anders Ericsson has made a career studying chess champions, violin virtuosos, star athletes, and memory mavens. Peak condenses three decades of original research to introduce an incredibly powerful approach to learning that is fundamentally different from the way people traditionally think about acquiring a skill.

Ericsson’s findings have been lauded and debated, but never properly explained. So the idea of expertise still intimidates us — we believe we need innate talent to excel, or think excelling seems prohibitively difficult.

Peak belies both of these notions, proving that almost all of us have the seeds of excellence within us — it’s just a question of nurturing them by reducing expertise to a discrete series of attainable practices. Peak offers invaluable, often counterintuitive, advice on setting goals, getting feedback, identifying patterns, and motivating yourself.  Whether you want to stand out at work, or help your kid achieve academic goals, Ericsson’s revolutionary methods will show you how to master nearly anything
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Click image to purchase (highly recommended)

In this episode we spoke to Anders regarding some of he common misconceptions of what it takes to be a “genius” we de-mystify the elusive state of expertise and teach you how you yourself can be world class at what you do – and so much more

This conversation will inform, entertain and enthrall you. 


Editorial Reviews on “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise”:

“This book is a breakthrough, a lyrical, powerful, science-based narrative that actually shows us how to get better (much better) at the things we care about.” –Seth Godin, author of LINCHPIN

“Most “important” books aren’t much fun to read. Most fun books aren’t very important. But with Peak, Anders Ericsson (with great work from Robert Pool) has hit the daily double. After all, who among us doesn’t want to learn how to get better at life? A remarkable distillation of a remarkable lifetime of work.”  –Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of FREAKONOMICS and SUPERFREAKONOMICS

“Ericsson’s research has revolutionized how we think about human achievement. He has found that what separates the best of us from the rest is not innate talent but simply the right kind of training and practice. If everyone would take the lessons of this book to heart, it could truly change the world.” –Joshua Foer, author of MOONWALKING WITH EINSTEIN

“[Ericsson] makes a strong case that success in today’s world requires a focus on practical performance, not just the accumulation of information. Especially informative for parents and educators in preparing children for the challenges ahead.”  –Kirkus Reviews

“Wonderful. I can’t think of a better book for a popular audience written on any topic in psychology.”  –Daniel Willigham, professor of Psychology at University of Virginia and author of WHY DON’T STUDENTS LIKE SCHOOL

“Conventional wisdom conveys we have to make do with what we’re born with, but, as Ericsson and Pool prove here, we all have the potential to be truly extraordinary if we apply the principles of deliberate practice. Learn how in this amazing guide!” — Marshall Goldsmith, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller TRIGGERS

Find Anders HERE.

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