Montero, Barbara Gail
Oxford University Press, USA
How does thinking affect doing? There is a widely held view--both in academia and in the popular press--that thinking about what you are doing, as you are doing it, hinders performance. Once you have acquired the ability to putt a golf ball, play an arpeggio on the piano, or parallel-park, it is believed that reflecting on your actions leads to inaccuracies, blunders, and sometimes even utter paralysis. Experts, accordingly, don't need to try to do it; they just do it. But is this true? After exploring some of the contemporary and historical manifestations of the idea that highly accomplished skills are automatic and effortless, Barbara Gail Montero develops a theory of expertise that emphasizes the role of the conscious mind in expert action. Along the way, she dispels various mythical accounts of experts who proceed without any understanding of what guides their action and analyzes research in both philosophy and psychology that is taken to show that conscious control impedes
well practiced skills. She also explores real-life examples of optimal performance--culled from sports, the performing arts, chess, nursing, medicine, the military and elsewhere--and draws from psychology, neuroscience, and literature to create a picture of expertise according to which expert action generally is and ought to be thoughtful, effortful, and reflective.