10000 hour rule

Anders Ericsson

I found out a few days ago that Anders Ericsson passed away in early May. Ericsson was a professor of psychology at Florida State University, and his research on the relationship between practice and achievement was the basis for Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000-hour rule”.

As I wrote in an earlier blog post, Gladwell selectively interpreted Ericsson’s findings, and overlooked some of the key concepts that are important in understanding the results of that research  – for example, that the quality of practice (“deliberate practice”) is as important, if not more important, than the amount of practice.

David Epstein, whose excellent book The Sports Gene explores all of the factors in addition to practice that make athletes successful, has written a lovely tribute to Ericsson and the impact of his research. I was going to write a longer post myself, but David has said everything that I wanted to say and said it much better. So I’ll link you to his article instead. You can read David’s tribute here.

Another Critique of Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Rule”

I’m currently reading a very interesting book entitled Selling the Dream: How Hockey Parents and Their Kids are Paying the Price for Our National Obsession. (The “our” is Canada, if you hadn’t already guessed that from the reference to hockey.) If nothing else, this book has made me, as a figure skater, realize that participating in hockey can be almost as expensive as participating in figure skating, especially when parents put their kids into all kinds of additional hockey training and coaching.

However, the part of the book that I found particularly fascinating was its comments on Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule”, which I have criticized in another post(more…)

Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Rule” Doesn’t Add Up

As regular readers of this blog know, it bugs me when writers get things wrong or can’t be bothered to justify their facts. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of references to the “10,000 hour rule” – the idea that you need to spend 10,000 hours on an activity to be successful at it.  I knew that this idea was popularized by writer Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, but I didn’t know where he got the idea from or what it was based on.

So imagine my surprise when I Googled “10,000 hour rule” and found this very recent letter by K. Anders Ericsson, the lead author of the study that Gladwell cites as “Exhibit A”  in support of the “rule”. Not only does Ericsson say that Gladwell “invented” the 10,000 hour rule, but he also describes Gladwell  as making a “provocative generalization to a magical number”. (more…)