David Hambrick and Elizabeth J. Meinz, arguing that Talent Matters in today’s New York Times Sunday review section:
But working memory capacity made a statistically significant contribution as well about 7 percent, a medium-size effect
This was in comparison to total practice time, which contributed “nearly half of the performance differences.” This is from a Meinz and Hambrick 2010 article in Psychological Science about piano performance,1 with the 7% reference to the increased variance in performance ratings explained when you add the working-memory measure to the practice-time measure.
I would not call it a “medium-size effect” given the dominance of practice time over the working-memory measure. It’s much smaller than the effect of practice (which accounts for 45% of the variance). My quick reading as an outsider to the field: Meinz and Hambrick look like they’ve set up a straw-man argument. Does anyone really think effort is all that matters, or just that it matters much more than anything you could call native talent?
- Added 11/26/11: I forgot to note in writing this to indicate that the study was about rated piano performances. [↩]