Thursday, August 10, 2006

The "Dark Side" of Expertise

Here's an interesting finding - researchers at Wash U St. Louis found that there is a dark side to expertise - test subjects with a larger database of word knowledge (for example animals, below) were more likely to make intrusive errors based on their better domain-specific fund of knowledge. The task was a paired-associate learning task involving football teams named after animals.

Investigators also draw an analogy between their results and other studies that find that experts may perform a domain-specific task more accurately, but be less accurate about what facts were presented that guided their decision-making in the first place.

This is the "dark side" of organizational expertise - a larger fund of knowledge and organizational template for decisions - may handicap you from accurately seeing information that's right in front of you...or more simply, the more you know, the more you may see only what you expect to see.

Many smart experts know this too, though, so they either consciously practice trying to see old problems like novices, or switch whole disciplines to keep fresh.

The Dark Side of Expertise pdf
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Switch! - Cross-Disciplinary Learning

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