For many of us, then, Andersson's conclusion has been deeply reassuring: Practice hard and you'll do well. But along comes a brand-new meta-analysis, a statistical summary of 157 separate comparisons in 88 recent studies, that finds practice actually doesn't play nearly as significant a role as we'd like to think. "The evidence is quite clear that some people do reach an elite level of performance without copious practice, while other people fail to do sodespite copious practice," wrote Brooke Macnamara, David Hambrick, and Frederick Oswald in Psychological Science. In fact, they calculated that, overall, the amount of deliberate practice in which someone engages explains only 12 percent of the variance in the quality of performance. Which means 88 percent is explained by other factors.
It seems that some have natural talent and some do not.
By Alfie Kohn