The Swedish Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson has published many reports stating that talent is "made and not born". In his book 'The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance', he has stated that "Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born."

On the other hand, a recent twin study has stated that on average, a human's ability is 50% influenced by genetic factors, and 50% influenced by environmental factors. This seems to contradict Ericsson's experiment, as he has asserted that genetic factors influence a person's abilities by less than 1%.

Does the twin study contradict Ericsson's assertions, and if so, why would there be such a large contradiction? What factors could have caused these large differences in findings?


Ericsson’s studies have repeatedly ignored the genetics of performance in any field. His favourite study of expert performance - the London taxi driver experiment - also failed to control for prior genetic attributes that may have led these taxi drivers into their professions in the first place. A good place to start perhaps


Macnamara, B. N., Hambrick, D. Z., & Oswald, F. L. (2014). Deliberate practice and performance in music, games, sports, education, and professions: A meta-analysis. Psychological science, 25(8), 1608-1618. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614535810

  • $\begingroup$ Ok, Ericsson may have repeatedly ignored genetics, but you haven't provided any strong evidence within your answer to prove that. What is your answer anyway? Does the twin study successfully disprove Erisson? $\endgroup$ Sep 22 '19 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ Did you read the paper referenced? It’s in there $\endgroup$
    – Nick H
    Sep 22 '19 at 15:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @NickH Thank you for your answer. Adding an explicit extracted quote from the paper which addresses this question directly would be a nice improvement to this answer! $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Oct 12 at 12:33

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