Saturday, June 3, 2017

Expert ability can actually impair the accuracy of expert perception when judging others' performance

Larson, J. S., & Billeter, D. M. (2017). Adaptation and fallibility in experts' judgments of novice performers. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(2), 271–288.

These authors show that expert ability can actually impair the accuracy of expert perception in the context of judging the performance of others.

They had individuals with a range of singing experience rank-order recordings of different vocalists singing "Let it Go" from best to worst. The true quality of each vocalist was assessed by applying a Bayesian model to the ranking data, and then judgment accuracy was assessed by comparing these "true" rankings to those given by the judges.

Expert singers were less accurate than intermediate singers at determining the relative quality of low-quality vocalists. A subsequent experiment showed that experts notice more mistakes than intermediate or novice judges, and judge these mistakes more harshly.

The authors interpret these results in terms of adaptation level theory, which suggests that people are better able to discriminate at their own adaptation level. Thus, performance expertise increases the ability to discriminate among top performers, but this reduces the ability to discriminate among lower-level performers.

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