There are swathes of blogs and books promoting the notion that we should seek the quickest possible feedback to develop ours skill. The most prominent example I can think of comes from Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow (emphasis mine).

The conditions for learning this skill are ideal, because you receive immediate and unambiguous feedback every time you go around a bend: the mild reward of a comfortable turn or the mild punishment of some difficulty in handling the car if you brake either too hard or not quite hard enough. The situations that face a harbor pilot manoeuvring large ships are no less regular, but skill is much more difficult to acquire by sheer experience because of the long delay between actions and their noticeable outcomes. Whether professionals have a chance to develop intuitive expertise depends essentially on the quality and speed of feedback, as well as on sufficient opportunity to practice.

Daniel Kahneman is very good with mentioning the research that gives him confidence in any particular statement, but in this case a reference is lacking. Perhaps he thought this is too intuitively obvious to require a reference (a sort of axiom of Psychology/Sociology).

It is easy to find solid evidence that certain types of feedback are superior, positive over negative for example, but I have tried in vain to find suitable references for the speed claim. So the obvious question is, does quick feedback really lead to greater expertise?

  • I would think so merely due to the forgetting curve: wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgetting_curve
    – adamaero
    May 30, 2020 at 16:00
  • Feedback aids learning. Whether it leads to expertise depends on the feedback. Stupid feedback leeds to stupid learning. Which probably explains fake news. May 31, 2020 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


In some if not most cases, yes. According to this study of motor skills, a greater frequency of feedback can speed up learning of complex tasks until a certain level of expertise is achieved. However in certain context like this study of speech therapy, "immediate or frequent feedback promotes temporary performance enhancement but interferes with retention and transfer."

  • I think the second study falls out of the scope of the question. I think it's implicit that the primary case for the question is normal healthy learners. I suspect that the study of feedback in learning speech movements, because you have brain damage, is a sample that is not generalisable to the the general population.
    – Rudi
    Jun 1, 2020 at 19:58
  • 1
    I'm not sure motor skill tasks is really what the OP is asking about either, but it's what I could find so far.
    – Brian Z
    Jun 1, 2020 at 20:00
  • @jpaugh With respect, your comment is a logical leap. You ought to read the linked study. Aquired apraxia and "difficulty learning to speak" are not even remotely the same thing.
    – Rudi
    Jun 1, 2020 at 20:24
  • @Rudi You're right. I was basing my response solely on the answer text and contents of your comment. My mistake.
    – jpaugh
    Jun 1, 2020 at 20:27
  • 1
    @jpaugh That's alright, it happens.
    – Rudi
    Jun 1, 2020 at 20:29

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