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J Exp Psychol Appl. 2007 Sep;13(3):124-34.

Expert performance in SCRABBLE: implications for the study of the structure and acquisition of complex skills.

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Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA.


Applied psychologists have long been interested in examining expert performance in complex cognitive domains. In the present article, we report the results from a study of expert cognitive skill in which elements from two historically distinct research paradigms are incorporated -- the individual differences tradition and the expert-performance approach. Forty tournament-rated SCRABBLE players (20 elite, 20 average) and 40 unrated novice players completed a battery of domain-representative laboratory tasks and standardized verbal ability tests. The analyses revealed that elite- and average-level rated players only significantly differed from each other on tasks representative of SCRABBLE performance. Furthermore, domain-relevant practice mediated the effects of SCRABBLE tournament ratings on representative task performance, suggesting that SCRABBLE players can acquire some of the knowledge necessary for success at the highest levels of competition by engaging in activities deliberately designed to maximize adaptation to SCRABBLE-specific task constraints. We discuss the potential importance of our results in the context of continuing efforts to capture and explain superior performance across intellectual domains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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