Beliefs about the importance of innate talent for achievement and its effect on perceptions of ability, in young people

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Brennan, Siobhan
Issue Date
BA in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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This is a study investigating perceptions of personal ability and beliefs about the contribution of natural talent towards ability levels. Previous research suggests that there is a tendency to over-attribute the role of innate talent for achievement. Young people's own beliefs about innate talent may have an effect on their beliefs about personal capabilities and potential achievement. This study investigates whether lack of sufficient innate talent is the main reason for young people to believe that they could not do well at a particular activity. It is hypoFinal Year Projected that innate talent will be ranked as significantly higher as a contributory factor for those who believe they could not do well at an activity, than the rankings given for talent by those who believe that they could do well. 94 secondary school students at fourth year level were asked for their beliefs about their abilities at ten different activities, that incorporated music, sports, drama, creative and academic activities. The results indicated that among the respondents who felt that they were not good at the activity, those who felt that they could potentially do well did not rank the importance of talent as highly as those who felt that they couldn't do well at the activity. The implications of these attitudes to inability are discussed. Suggestions are made about to present the task of skill development to students in the future, with a possible reduction of emphasis on the necessity of talent for achievement.