, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 251-265

Psychological Expertise and the Role of Individual Differences: An Exploration of Issues

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Cognitive scientists have suggested that individual differences are relatively unimportant in predicting who will become an expert in any particular domain. This stance is at variance with the admissions screening practices of graduate programs in professional psychology as well as with counseling psychology's individual differences tradition. The purpose of this article was to consider some of the issues involved on both sides of this apparent contradiction, with particular emphasis on expertise in professional psychology. I first examine some of the possible operational definitions of expertise in this domain. I then consider salient literature and conclude that there almost certainly are “threshold levels” of intellectual and interpersonal skills that trainees in professional psychology should have. Beyond these levels, though, it may be that motivation and persistence are the most important variables in predicting the eventual attainment of expertise in professional psychology.