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Am J Psychol. 2011 Summer;124(2):213-25.

Revising superior planning performance in chess players: the impact of time restriction and motivation aspects.

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University Medical Center Mainz, Germany.


In a previous study (Unterrainer, Kaller, Halsband, & Rahm, 2006), chess players outperformed non-chess players in the Tower of London planning task but exhibited disproportionately longer processing times. This pattern of results raises the question of whether chess players' planning capabilities are superior or whether the results reflect differences in the speed-accuracy trade-off between the groups, possibly attributable to sports motivation. The present study was designed to disambiguate these alternative suggestions by implementing various constraints on planning time and by assessing self-reported motivation. In contrast to the previous study, chess players' performance was not superior, independently of whether problems had to be solved with (Experiment 1) or without (Experiment 2) time limits. As expected, chess players reported higher overall trait and state motivation scores across both experiments. These findings revise the notion of superior planning performance in chess players. In consequence, they do not conform with the assumption of a general transfer of chess-related planning expertise to other cognitive domains, instead suggesting that superior performance may be possible only under specific circumstances such as receiving competitive instructions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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