The Psychology of Skill: A Life-Span Approach

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People are captivated by observations of skilled human behavior in arenas such as sports, arts, and dance. Methods to advance the skills of novices have been created since the earliest days of humankind. Recent scientific progress in understanding learning processes have led Tomporowski to conclude that skilled behavior reflects a dynamic interaction among physiological structures of the body, cognitive processes of the mind, and the motivational processes of the human spirit. This multidisciplinary approach describes how skills are learned and performed, as well as why skills are critical to the survival of individuals and the cultures in which they live. Skill learning is evaluated in the context of theories of life-span psychology and the notion that humans are confronted with a series of tasks as they develop, mature, and age. People's ability to meet and overcome challenges presented by these developmental tasks depends on requisite skills that are acquired over years of training. Success or failure can profoundly affect an individual's life path trajectory. The skills we learn at various periods across the life span play a role in how we view ourselves and our society in general.