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Innate talents: Reality or myth?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 1998

Michael J. A. Howe
Department of Psychology, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QG,
Jane W. Davidson
Department of Music, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN,
John A. Sloboda
Department of Psychology, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG,


Talents that selectively facilitate the acquisition of high levels of skill are said to be present in some children but not others. The evidence for this includes biological correlates of specific abilities, certain rare abilities in autistic savants, and the seemingly spontaneous emergence of exceptional abilities in young children, but there is also contrary evidence indicating an absence of early precursors of high skill levels. An analysis of positive and negative evidence and arguments suggests that differences in early experiences, preferences, opportunities, habits, training, and practice are the real determinants of excellence.

Research Article
© 1998 Cambridge University Press

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