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Skill Acquisition

  1. Philip A. Ackerman

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0877

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Ackerman, P. A. 2010. Skill Acquisition. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Georgia Institute of Technology

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The hallmark characteristics of well-learned skills are that they tend to be fast and accurate and can often be performed with little attentional effort. Normal adults have countless numbers of such skills, ranging in complexity from very simple (e.g., brushing one's teeth) to relatively complex (e.g., reading a novel). In the absence of such skills, the process of getting from one's bed to work would be an exhausting and error-prone challenge. The question of how people acquire skills has been central to psychology for more than 100 years. For many intents and purposes, though, it is useful to separate two different kinds of knowledge and skills. Ryle (1949/2000) suggested that there are fundamental differences between procedural knowledge and declarative knowledge. Procedural knowledge is described as “knowing how,” and declarative knowledge is defined as “knowing that.”


  • procedural knowledge;
  • declarative knowledge;
  • flow