How does “natural born talent” work exactly, and why does it vary so much between people?


How does “natural born talent” work exactly, and why does it vary so much between people?

In: Biology

There is no “natural born talent.” People are inherently slightly better than others at certain things. It takes hard work and dedication to master any skill, regardless of starting level.

Natural born talent is such a broad term that can include a huge variety of things. I will therefore explain two phenomenon that can help you wrapping your mind around it.

The first, called the January effect, was a study that noticed that a large part of the hockey players in the NHL were born during the first 3 months of the year. They found that this was due to the fact that superearly for the kids that started with hocky practice very young (around 5 maybe) had a massive advantage if they where born early in the year, as they were far more developed (a kid born in January vs December is practically one year more developed). This also applies for genetic advantages like early hightgrowth for basketballplayers. This leads them to perform better, thus getting more attention and focus from parents and coaches. This leads to more practice, leading to even better performance etc. Apply this to genetic advantage (like the hight in basketball) and you have “natural talent”

The next is simpler, as with singing. Some things are highly dependent on genetics, and by the very definition of talent you need to be “way above average”. Sometimes, by genetics and chance, some people end up with the exact right ingredients (lungs, vocal cords, abdominal muscles etc) to just be extraordinary.

Does that sort of answer your question?

Scientists still don’t know the exact origin of “natural” talent, but it is likely that most talents are not actually programmed in your DNA, but are an unintended side effect of some aspect of your life and experiences. Skills are formed through repetition and reinforcement, so if someone is able to learn and obsess constantly about a topic, then they are likely to become skilled at it.

I recall reading about one psychologist who set out to prove that child prodigies were a product of nurture, not nature. Despite the fact that he was not a very good chess player, he surrounded his own children with chess related topics throughout their childhood. Three of his four children ended up becoming Chess Masters or Grand Masters (the fourth was also very good but refused to participate in ranked competition).