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Does it matter how long your Psychologist has been practicing?

Harold Mandel's picture

New psychological research shows that there is a great deal more to perceptions of excelling than just practice. Now scientists have questioned the impact of practice on performance.

Over two decades ago researchers proposed that individual variances in performance in such domains as music, sports, games, and work largely reflect individual differences in the amount of deliberate practice reported the journal Psychological Science. Deliberate practice has been defined as engagement in structured activities which are created specifically to improve performance in a domain. Scientists began to question whether this was supported by empirical evidence.

In order to answer this question researchers conducted a meta-analysis which covered all major domains in which deliberate practice has been explored. The scientists found that deliberate practice explained variance in performance as follows:

1: 26 percent for games

2: 21 percent for music

3: 18 percent for sports

4: 4 percent for education

5: Less than 1 percent for professions

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It has been concluded that although deliberate practice may in some instances be important, it is often not nearly as important as has been argued.

The theory that people who excel are those people who have practiced the most has been overturned

In a dramatic move new assistant professor of psychology Brooke N. Macnamara, PhD, and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University have overturned a decades old theory that people who excel in their fields are those people who have practiced the most reports the journal Think. Macnamara says he shouldn't be misunderstood. He still sees practice as being important. However, he does not see practice as being as important as many people have thought.

The initial idea that practice is the most important factor in achievement came from studies by K. Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist. Ericsson and colleagues proposed in 1993 the idea that variances in amounts of accumulated practice were the primary reason why people differed in their expertise. They came to this conclusion by studying the practice habits of violin students.

People with less practice and more confidence often shine

Data from interviews and questionnaires about the amount of time which is spent practicing have supported the new assumption that something other than practice time is actually involved in mastering a skill. Macnamara and colleagues have found that actual practice time is not as important in acquiring a skill as previously thought. Consider for example that a musician who has been entertaining for a long time could freeze up on stage and blow a concert apart. However, a musician who has been considered far less experienced but who has a great deal more confidence could shine and become an overnight sensation.

The finding that practice is often not associated with excelling is significant in the field of mental health care. The burgeoning popularity of mental health care human rights activist groups such as the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, MindFreedom and PsychRights shows us how disgusted patients have been with what they generally describe as consistently abusive and destructive intervention by psychiatrists.

Although the US federal government, states and courts often intervene in favor of the psychiatrists to insist the power of the psychiatrists is to be respected due to a demanded respect for states rights over individual rights, this only horribly exacerbates the severe pain and suffering the psychiatrists inflict people with. What has been emerging in the United States is a brutal psychiatric police state which has absolutely no respect for individual human rights.

Holistic non-psychiatric mental health care providers who are often said to lack the practice experience of the psychiatrists are nevertheless often embraced by patients as offering them warm and helpful professional services. However, this humane intervention can often not over-ride the government endorsed damages from the psychiatrists with all of their years of practice experience.