The Science of Experience – TIME

Experience is not only insufficient for expert performance; in some cases, it can hurt. Highly experienced people tend to execute routine tasks almost unconsciously — think of Monica immediately glancing up to see Ardman’s dopamine drip — and they retrieve the information they need quickly, rarely pausing to apply rules. Driving is a good example. In a 1991 paper in the journal Ergonomics, a team of researchers found that while new drivers and truly expert drivers (members of Britain’s Institute of Advanced Motorists) checked their mirrors often and applied their brakes early, regular drivers with 20 years’ experience rarely checked their mirrors and braked much later. Experience in a particular task frees space in your mind for other cognitive pursuits — wondering what’s for dinner, answering your cell, singing along with Justin Timberlake — but those things can distract you from the accident you’re about to have. Experience can also lead to overconfidence: a study in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention found that licensed race-car drivers had more on-the-road accidents than controls did.

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