Intelligence and practice in skill development

A study examines how intelligence and practice interact to influence the development of chess skills. Existing research supports roles for both intelligence and practice in human skill development, but the relative importance of these factors and their potential interplay are debated. In a longitudinal study of 90 Austrian chess players, ages 10-77 years, Merim Bilalic and colleagues examined the simultaneous influence of intelligence and practice on the development of chess skills throughout the lifespan. The authors found that both a player’s numerical intelligence, as measured by an established test, and number of tournament games played per year, a measure of practice, were positively associated with skill level. More importantly, the authors found that a model that included an interaction between intelligence and practice could explain more of the variance in skill among players than one in which both factors acted independently. With a given amount of practice, more intelligent players acquired chess skill more quickly, reached a higher peak performance, and arrested decline earlier in older age compared with their less intelligent colleagues. The results highlight the interplay between intelligence and practice in acquiring and retaining complex skills. According to the authors, the findings support a central tenet of intelligence theories–widely assumed but rarely empirically proven–that more able people derive greater benefit from the same amount of learning.

Article #18-19086: “The joint influence of intelligence and practice on skill development throughout the life span,” by Nemanja Vaci et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Roland H. Grabner, University of Graz, AUSTRIA; tel: +43-316-380-5081; e-mail:

; Nemanja Vaci, University of Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM; tel: +44-73-991-73308; email:


This part of information is sourced from

Roland H. Grabner

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