Experts in a field don’t always gives better expert advice — they may just give more advice. People may thus mistake quantity for quality when it comes to expert advice.
Top Performers Do Not Equal Top Advice
These were the findings from researchers at (Harvard University and the University of Virginia. They found that top performers don’t give better advice than other performers. They just seem to give more advice.
“Skillful performance and skillful teaching are not always the same thing, so we shouldn’t expect the best performers to necessarily be the best teachers as well,” said one of the researchers.
In one study involving 1,1000 participants in a game called Word Scramble, the participants were given the choice to get advice from advisors who played the game. The participants showed a strong preference for advisors who were strong performers in the game.
Non-Expert Advice May Be Just as Helpful
In another study, participants got advice from random advisors. There was no difference in the performance of players receiving random advice and advice from top performers. One interesting result was that players who received advice from top performers thought the advice helped them more, even though the results didn’t indicate it.
The researchers indicated, “Top performers didn’t write more helpful advice, but they did write more of it, and people in our experiments mistook quantity for quality.”
One reason for these observations is that skilled performers may overlook fundamental advice. They have master their skill and may overlook the fact that others may not have such mastery.
Another reason is that being a skilled performer does not mean you are a skilled teacher. That person may simply not be as good in communicating the advice.
Quality vs. Quantity
The take home message? It’s not the quantity but the quality. When seeking advice from experts, look at how much of the advice you can use, rather than how much advice you are receiving.