Send to

Choose Destination
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2018 Feb 15. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13586. [Epub ahead of print]

Toward a multifactorial model of expertise: beyond born versus made.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
Department of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


The debate over the origins of individual differences in expertise has raged for over a century in psychology. The "nature" view holds that expertise reflects "innate talent"-that is, genetically determined abilities. The "nurture" view counters that, if talent even exists, its effects on ultimate performance are negligible. While no scientist takes seriously a strict nature-only view of expertise, the nurture view has gained tremendous popularity over the past several decades. This environmentalist view holds that individual differences in expertise reflect training history, with no important contribution to ultimate performance by innate ability ("talent"). Here, we argue that, despite its popularity, this view is inadequate to account for the evidence concerning the origins of expertise that has accumulated since the view was first proposed. More generally, we argue that the nature versus nurture debate in research on expertise is over-or certainly should be, as it has been in other areas of psychological research for decades. We describe a multifactorial model for research on the nature and nurture of expertise, which we believe will provide a progressive direction for future research on expertise.


deliberate practice; expertise; genetics; music; talent


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center