Capturing Naturally Occurring Superior Performance in the Laboratory:
Translational Research on Expert Performance
K. Anders Ericsson - Florida State University, Tallahassee
A. Mark Williams - Liverpool John Moores University
One of the central challenges to studying highly skilled performance in the laboratory is methodological.It is necessary to develop standardized methods that allow investigators to make experts repeatedly reproduce their superior performance in the laboratory. The recent increase in demand for translational research has raised related issues of how everyday phenomena, such as successful clinical treatments and expert achievement, can be reproduced in the laboratory and how laboratory studies of these phenomena can lead to successful interventions in everyday life. The expert-performance approach was developed as a framework for capturing, analyzing, and accounting for complex acquired skills and adaptations. Performance is initially captured and elicited in the laboratory using tasks representative of core activities in the domain. Process-tracing measures are employed to identify the mechanisms that mediate the reproducibly superior performance. Finally, the factors responsible for the development of the mediating mechanisms are studied by a retrospective analysis of training activities, such as deliberate practice, as well as genetic prerequisites. The principles and mechanisms discovered need then be validated using more traditional longitudinal and experimental designs.