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4 - Studies of Expertise from Psychological Perspectives



The study of expertise has a very long history that has been discussed in several other chapters in this handbook (Ericsson, Chapter 1; Amirault & Branson, Chapter 5). This chapter focuses on the influential developments within cognitive science and cognitive psychology that have occurred over the last three decades. Our chapter consists of two parts. In the first part we briefly review what we consider the major developments in cognitive science and cognitive psychology that led to the new field of expertise studies. In the second part we attempt to characterize some of the emerging insights about mechanisms and aspects of expertise that generalize across domains, and we explore the original theoretical accounts, along with more recent ones.

The Development of Expertise Studies

In this handbook there are several pioneering research traditions represented that were brought together to allow laboratory studies of expertise, along with the development of formal models that can reproduce the performance of the experts. One early stream was the study of thinking using protocol analysis, where participants were instructed to “think aloud” while solving everyday life problems (Duncker, 1945), and experts were asked to think aloud while selecting moves for chess positions (de Groot, 1946/1965; Ericsson, Chapter 13). Another stream developed out of the research on judgment and decision making, where researchers compared the judgments of experts to those of statistical models (Meehl, 1954; Yates & Tschirhart, Chapter 24).

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