The Elusive Concept of Expertise: Who Counts as an Expert?
There is an ongoing debate in the philosophy and psychology of skill as to the nature of expertise. On the one side of this debate are those who maintain that although novices need to think about, deliberate over, and pay attention to their developing skills, experts perform optimally in the absence of conscious skill-directed attention, while on the other side, are those who maintain that experts generally are consciously engaged in their execution of their skills. What, exactly, do the various proponents of each side of this debate mean by “expert” when they claim that experts either do or do not consciously attend to their movements in action? The aim of this paper is to describe and critically analyze some of the uses of the term “expert” in the expertise literature, along with the criteria that have been employed to identify experts and, ultimately, to suggest a conceptualization of expertise that may facilitate a more productive debate over the question of whether experts think in action.