Anders Ericsson is a Swedish psychologist and Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University who is internationally recognized as a researcher in the psychological nature of expertise and human performance.

He is the co-editor of The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, a volume released in 2006. Ericsson’s research with Herbert A. Simon on verbal reports of thinking is summarized in a book Protocol Analysis: Verbal Reports as Data, which was revised in 1993. With Bill Chase, he developed the Theory of Skilled Memory based on detailed analyses of acquired exceptional memory performance.

Currently, Ericsson studies expert performance in domains such as medicine, music, chess, and sports, focusing exclusively on extended deliberate practice (e.g., high concentration practice beyond one’s comfort zone) as a means of how expert performers acquire their superior performance.

Critically, Ericsson’s program of research serves as a direct complement to other research that addresses cognitive ability, personality, interests, and other factors that help researchers understand and predict deliberate practice and expert performance.

“If you’ve been doing something for long enough, that’s just not enough for you to reach a superior performance.”Click-To-Tweet

In This Episode:

  • His early yearning to understand how knowledge was generated
  • Seeking a deeper context for learning beyond retaining information
  • The key to mastering a domain
  • How his research differs from Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule
  • Creating “representations” to explore further expertise
  • The true meaning of deliberate practice
  • Difference between expertise and mastery
  • The ideal method for learning and practice
  • Applying deliberate practice to less quantifiable facets of life
  • Whether external rewards are important for motivation



“If you as a parent have more or less just trained your child, that’s quite different from preparing your child to be an independent performer who is actually in control of their training so that once they reach an adult level they will be actually able to take over responsibility for their development.”

“If you just keep doing what you have been doing, you are going to be limited in how much you can actually improve your performance.”

“You really need to think about, ‘How does this activity really prepare me to do something better in the future?’”

On what goes beyond being an “expert”: “Those individuals that can consistently perform at higher levels than their peers.”

“I’m interested in helping find ways we can move our knowledge forward.”

“If I can understand why someone doesn’t agree with me, maybe I’ll be able to move further ahead with my own understanding.”

“I would describe myself as somebody really trying to understand how thinking is being acquired and built and how it can be improved.”

“Right now I’m really interested in, ‘if you’re a parent how would you design an environment that would actually allow a child to fall in love with some activity that they can they become proficient at.’”

“What are the motivational driving forces that really reward people for sustaining this commitment to improving across a lifetime?”


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Anders Work:


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Anders Ericsson is a Swedish psychologist and Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University who is internationally recognized as a researcher in the psychological nature of expertise and human performance.