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Expert (even professional or technical expert or specialist ) or an expert is a person who on above average extensive knowledge on a field or more specific Sacher closures or special skills has. In addition to theoretical knowledge, its competent application, i.e. practical knowledge of action , can be characteristic of an expert.


The loan word “expert” is derived from “experienced, knowledgeable” ( French expert ), which in turn comes from the same Latin meaning ( Latin expertus ). The first evidence from 1830 in Germany is of a legal nature, when Wolfgang Heinrich Puchta commented: "... this evidence ... is almost usually associated with the involvement of experts (experts ...)". In 1853 the expert report of an engineer was quoted, in 1863 the "economic expert" followed. The noun agentis expertise is derived from the word expert .


Experts have detailed specialist knowledge and / or experience in a specific subject area, which gives them specialist competence . On the basis of specialist knowledge and skills , you are therefore able to "solve tasks and problems in a goal-oriented, appropriate, method-based and independent manner and assess the result". According to this , key terms of professional competence are target orientation , appropriateness (subject- relatedness ), methodological competence , independence and the ability to apply the situation appropriately and to evaluate results.

Expertise and expertise

The technical or specialist knowledge includes:

  • the specialist knowledge in the real sense:
  • Knowledge of the dangers and risks emanating from handling the item as well as the resulting precautionary, protective measures and precautions and awareness of responsibility and liability .

Expert knowledge is usually acquired through training or studies , but it can also be acquired through research or self-taught . A certificate that a person has certain specialist knowledge is usually provided by handing over a certificate that is confirmed by a state or state- recognized or generally recognized examination. Since the specialist knowledge can also be obtained publicly in books, the Internet and other sources, a person can acquire this through self- study , but is not also recognized as a specialist (see also certificate of proficiency ).

Professional competence means being able to apply the relevant specialist knowledge and skills in relevant cases.



From the educational sciences point of view, the difference between “expert” and “layperson” is essentially to be seen in the fact that in communication between the two, the expected competence to act is not identical to the routine knowledge component. The layman as "non-specialist" is conceived as the opposite of the expert. The main criterion for distinguishing between laypeople and experts is the systematic divergence of the knowledge of both.

From layman to expert

In 1992, the cognitive psychologists Robert M. Schumacher and Mary P. Czerwinski distinguished three stages of development on the way from layman to expert:

  1. “Pre-theoretical level”: When you first come into contact with a new subject, you try to find something comparable based on your own superficial working methodology and the superficial properties of the topic in your memory in order to be able to classify the new information in a meaningful way.
  2. “Empirical level”: When dealing with the new material, an attempt is made to gain an initial understanding of (deeper) structural properties and causal relationships through the formation of analogies, induction , abstraction, etc.
  3. "Expert level": Abstractions across several subject areas are developed and thus allow the learning transfer of the new knowledge.

The educational psychologist Robert Glaser also distinguished three stages in 1996:

  1. External support ( English external support ): parents, teachers, coaches, etc. provide learning environment, teaching methods and content.
  2. Transition ( English transitional stage ): Outside help is needed less and less; the criteria for expertise are discovered.
  3. Self employed organized learning ( English self-regulatory stage ): The prospective expert is more dependent on any outside help.

Many reports on the development of expertise emphasize that it comes about through long phases of conscious practice. According to psychological research, it takes 10 years of conscious practice and targeted practice to achieve expert status. Targeted practice is characterized by “structured activities, which are often designed by teachers or trainers, with the express goal of increasing a person's current level of performance. (···) It requires the setting of specific goals for improvement and the monitoring of various performance aspects. Targeted practice also includes the attempt to exceed the previous limit, which requires full concentration and effort. "(P. 695)

Performance research

In cognitive science and psychology , expert knowledge or expertise describes an extraordinary problem-solving ability or achievement ( English performance ) in a certain area, which is based on extensive experience. This knowledge does not have to be acquired systematically; it is rather decisive that a person in a subject area has an above-average ability to solve area- and task-specific problems. Expertise is thus a consequence of the human ability to adapt comprehensively to physical and social environments.

The number of hours in conscious practice and application to acquire expertise explains about 30% of the differences in performance between people, depending on the field of activity examined. However, a meta-analysis specifically for the field of music found a correlation of r = 0.61, which explains or corresponds to about 36% of the differences in performance between people .

Key characteristics of experts are:

  1. They recognize great contexts of meaning.
  2. You work faster and make fewer mistakes.
  3. You have better short-term and long-term memories.
  4. They pay more attention to structure than to superficial properties.
  5. You spend a lot of time on qualitative analysis.
  6. They can correctly assess their own abilities and achievements.
  7. All of this only applies in their respective specialist area.

Expertise research examines the type and acquisition of problem-relevant, area-specific knowledge. For this purpose, the problem-solving behavior of experts and novices is usually compared. In contrast to experts, novices are people who lack the appropriate exercise in the relevant content area. The areas of knowledge examined include programming , physics , music , sports and medicine .

Expertise research has a major influence on the development of so-called expert systems in computer science ( artificial intelligence ).

Intermediate Effect

Lesgold found in 1984 in a study of X-ray doctors with different level of training an intermediate effect ( English intermediate effect ): beginners assessed the radiographs more often correct than doctors with some experience. Advanced learners have more detailed knowledge than beginners, but this knowledge is not yet sufficiently organized . You begin to see the rules , but not the exceptions . Parents of teenagers are also familiar with the intermediate effect. Even when language acquisition by children , there is a period of "over-regulation": first they only imitate and often are on the right, then they discover syntactic rules and these can now apply false.

Legal issues

The term "expert" is not legally protected. The related term expert , however, is a legal term , with the "publicly appointed and sworn expert" there is a legally protected designation; there is no comparable public recognition of an “expert”. Therefore, an objective quality of the so designated or self-appointed experts cannot be derived from the designation.

Expertise is a legal term that the trade regulation (GewO) mentions for the qualification of certain professions with proof of the expert examination (e.g. for insurance brokers : § 34d GewO or for financial intermediaries § 34f GewO). In German law is under competence of the services provided by a knowledge test detection understood to a particular area of expertise. In contrast, there is specialist knowledge , in which only the knowledge has to be available. This does not have to be proven by an examination.

The skilled person is of particular importance in patent law when it comes to understanding a technical explanation, representation, drawing or coding. An invention In accordance with § 4 PatG than on an inventive step based if they are not apparent to the skilled man in an obvious manner from the prior art is obtained. For example, the chemical formula H 2 O means “ water ” to a person skilled in the art , which is not known to every technical layperson. However, the content of this formula is clear to the person skilled in the art or to the average person skilled in the art. The average skilled person ( English person having ordinary skill in the art ) defines the threshold for inventive step and the necessary disclosure for reworkability.

Social context

In politics, the members of the specialist committees are often referred to in the daily press as experts without any associated specialist training being their own. The appointment of experts is part of the social mobilization in politics, in particular the emancipation of the individual politician against the interest groups that are close to his party and against the political opponents who represent opposing positions.

In public media, terms such as ARD doping expert or ZDF weather expert are common without any particular legitimation.

Often researchers or scientists are used as experts.


A social system in which experts have the authority to make decisions is also jokingly called “ expertocracy ”.


  • MTH Chi / R. Glaser / MJ Farr (eds.): The nature of expertise . Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ 1988.
  • K. Anders Ericsson / Neil Charness / Paul Feltovich / Robert R. Hoffman (eds.): Cambridge handbook on expertise and expert performance . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK 2006, ISBN 0-521-60081-2 .
  • Harald A. Mieg: The social psychology of expertise . Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ 2001, ISBN 0-8058-3750-7 .
  • J. Müsseler / W. Prince: General Psychology . Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg 2002, ISBN 3-8274-1128-9 .
  • JR Anderson: Cognitive Psychology . Heidelberg: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg 2001, ISBN 3-8274-1024-X .
  • Heinz Lothar Grob, Heinz Holling, Frank Bensberg: Personalization of EUS for decision-making processes by experts. Work report computer-assisted controlling, Münster 2008. ( PDF ( Memento from May 30, 2009 in the Internet Archive ))
  • N. Hagemann / M. Tietjens, B. Strauss (Hrsg.): Psychology of top athletic performance: Basics and applications of expertise research in sport. Hogrefe, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 3-8017-2033-0 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Expert  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Schulz / Otto Basler, German Foreign Dictionary , Volume 5, 2004, p. 503 ff.
  2. Wolfgang Heinrich Puchta , The Service of the German Justice Offices or Single Judges , Volume II, 1830, p. 401
  3. ^ Karl Knies, The railways and their effects , 1853, p. 3
  4. VJs of Economics IV, 1863, p 168
  5. Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK), handouts for the development of framework curricula of the KMK for job-related teaching and their coordination with federal training regulations for recognized training occupations , 1995, p. 15
  6. Werner Thole, Grundriss Soziale Arbeit: An introductory manual , 2012, p. 206
  7. Ursula Hermann, Knaurs etymologisches Lexikon , 1982, p. 286
  8. Brigitte Huber, Public Experts: About the Media Presence of Experts , 2014, p. 24
  9. Rainer Bromme / Regina Jucks / Riklef Rambow, expert-layperson communication in knowledge management , in: Gabi Reimann / Heinz Mandl, Man in Knowledge Management, 2004, p 177
  10. ^ Robert M. Schumacher / Mary P. Czerwinski, Mental models and the acquisition of expert knowledge , in: Robert R. Hoffman (Ed.): The psychology of expertise , Springer-Verlag New York, 1992, pp. 61-79
  11. ^ Robert Glaser, Changing the agency for learning: Acquiring expert performance , in: K. Anders Ericsson (Ed.): The road to excellence , Mahwah, New Jersey, 1996, pp. 303-311
  12. ^ Karl Anders Ericsson, The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance , 2006, p. 62 ff.
  13. Ericsson, KA, and Lehmann, AC: Expertise . In: MA Runco, S. Pritzker (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Creativity . Academic Press, New York, NY 1999, pp. 695-707 .
  14. Expertise. In: Lexicon of Psychology. Retrieved May 29, 2017 .
  15. David Z. Hambrick, Frederick L. Oswald, Erik M. Altmann, Elizabeth J. Meinz, Fernand Gobet: Deliberate practice: Is that all it takes to become an expert? In: Intelligence . tape 45 , July 2014, ISSN  0160-2896 , p. 34–45 , doi : 10.1016 / j.intell.2013.04.001 ( [accessed December 2, 2018]).
  16. ^ Friedrich Platz, Reinhard copyz, Andreas C. Lehmann, Anna Wolf: The influence of deliberate practice on musical achievement: a meta-analysis . In: Frontiers in Psychology . tape 5 , 2014, ISSN  1664-1078 , doi : 10.3389 / fpsyg.2014.00646 , PMID 25018742 , PMC 4073287 (free full text) - ( [accessed December 2, 2018]).
  17. Michelene TH Chi / Robert Glaser / Marshall J. Farr, The Nature of Expertise , 1988, p. 108 ff.
  18. Alan M. Lesgold among others, expertise in a complex skill , in: (ed.) Michelene TH Chi: The nature of expertise , Hillsdale, New Jersey 1988
  19. Frank P. Goebel, Patents for what? And what do they gain for? , 2013, no p.
  20. The expert in an interview with the daily newspaper
  21. Video Tiersch: Spring is not in sight  in the ZDFmediathek , accessed on January 26, 2014. (offline)