Document Type

Journal Article




School of Arts and Humanities




Sala, G., Burgoyne, A. P., Macnamara, B. N., Hambrick, D. Z., Campitelli, G., & Gobet, F. (2017). Checking the “Academic Selection” argument. Chess players outperform non-chess players in cognitive skills related to intelligence: a meta-analysis. Intelligence. 61, 130 - 139.

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Substantial research in the psychology of expertise has shown that experts in several fields (e.g., science, mathematics) perform better than non-experts on standardized tests of intelligence. This evidence suggests that intelligence plays an important role in the acquisition of expertise. However, a counter argument is that the difference between experts and non-experts is not due to individuals' traits but to academic selection processes. For instance, in science, high scores on standardized tests (e.g., SAT and then GRE) are needed to be admitted to a university program for training. Thus, the “academic selection process” hypothesis is that expert vs. non-expert differences in cognitive ability reflect ability-related differences in access to training opportunities. To test this hypothesis, we focused on a domain in which there are no selection processes based on test scores: chess. This meta-analysis revealed that chess players outperformed non-chess players in intelligence-related skills (d− = 0.49). Therefore, this outcome does not corroborate the academic selection process argument, and consequently, supports the idea that access to training alone cannot explain expert performance.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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