What makes one great? Is it intelligence alone or does it also include sustained practice?
Working memory capacity – closely related to general intelligence – may sometimes be the deciding factor between good and great, according to a Michigan State University study.
Practice is equally important – if not more – than intelligence in making people stand out, associate professor in psychology Zach Hambrick said.
Imagine where Bill Gates would be if he hadn’t honed his programming skills, but then Hambrick disagrees with the notion that intelligence plays no role in determining excellence, reports the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.
Hambrick and colleagues found that people with higher levels of working memory capacity outperformed those with lower levels – and even in individuals with extensive experience and knowledge of the task at hand, according to a Michigan statement.
“While the specialized knowledge that accumulates through practice is the most important ingredient to reach a very high level of skill, it’s not always sufficient,” Hambrick said.
“Working memory capacity can still predict performance in complex domains such as music, chess, science, and may be even in sports that have a substantial mental component such as golf,” he said.