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Emotions & Mental Health


Research has long supported that the presence of hope is important for many outcomes. The latest research with gifted adolescents also confirms that those adolescents with higher hope had profiles more conducive to academic talent development (Dixon et al., 2023).

Research is mixed on whether higher IQ is a predictor of good mental health or not. Here's the research for you to peruse! 

Two new meta-reviews found similar results...the data is mixed! Tasca et al. (2022) looked at 19 published studies to review the association between intellectual giftedness and socio-emotional and/or behavioral disorders. The researchers found that they could not draw a final conclusion on the relationship between giftedness and socio-emotional or behavioral disorders and instead argue for future studies in order to reach more robust findings. Similarly, Kontakou el. (2022) aimed to review the link between giftedness and neurodevelopmental disorders in children and adolescents. They included 32 studies in their review but found contradictory results within those studies. They argue that more research is needed in the field of dual exceptionality including longitudinal studies. 

A 2023 article found that adolescents with a high cognitive ability were not at increased risk of psychological maladjustment, but adolescents who had been formally identified as gifted did report worse adjustment for some outcomes.  The research found that gifted adolescents in general were not at increased risk of mental health issues. In fact, the researchers found that differences in mental health were positive for gifted adolescents compared to their peers. Specifically, gifted adolescents reported higher levels of self-esteem, less conduct problems, less hyperactivity, and less inattention than their average ability peers.  However, when adolescents had been formally identified and labelled as gifted, they did report worse adjustment for some outcomes compared to their gifted peers without labels. Specifically, gifted adolescents labelled as such reported lower self-esteem and higher levels of emotional problems, worry and inattention compared to their non-labeled peers. 

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. . . Especially if I’m less intelligent: How sunlight and intelligence affect happiness in modern society. 2022. Takeaway: exposure to sunshine increases happiness, but the relationship is less pronounced among those with higher intelligence. 

Emotionally intelligent people show more flexible regulation of emotions in daily life. March 2022. Takeaway: emotional intelligence predicts ability to emotionally regulate across situations. 

The Effectiveness of Creative Drama on Mental Health and Self-esteem in Aggressive Gifted Students. 2021. A creative drama intervention increased self-esteem and decreased the overall mental health score in the subscales of social dysfunction, anxiety, and depression but had no significant effect on the subscale of physical symptoms.

A meta-analytic review of emotional intelligence in gifted individuals: A multilevel analysis. March 2021. Takeaway from the findings: "gifted individuals tended to be more emotionally intelligent when emotional intelligence is measured based on ability, but not trait models."

Parenting the Exceptional Social-Emotional Needs of Gifted and Talented Children: What Do We Know? (2021). A review of the research on parenting for gifted kids. Authoritative parenting supports gifted children's personal growth; authoritarian parenting conversely negatively affects children's wellbeing and mental health. 

The sleep and mental health of gifted children: a prospective, longitudinal, community cohort study. 2020. This research found that gifted children had significantly fewer symptoms of mental health difficulties than non-gifted children. The researchers found no evidence that gifted children have more mental health (or sleep) difficulties than their peers during childhood.


Bringing Giftedness to Bear: Generativity, Meaningfulness, and Self-Control as Resources for a Happy Life Among Gifted Adults. 2019. Abstract: "Meaning in life has been found to be of particular importance for the subjective well-being of intellectually gifted individuals. However, there is a lack of research about what contributes to gifted adults’ meaning in life and how it could be enhanced. This study examined if the devotion of one’s gift or talent to the well-being of others—i.e., the source of meaning “generativity”—would lead to a sense of meaning and, in further consequence, result in higher subjective well-being over time. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the effect of meaningfulness on subjective well-being was conditional on trait self-control. Longitudinal data of two gifted groups was obtained via an online study: 100 intellectually gifted individuals (55% female; mean age 43 ± 9 years) and 52 high academic achievers (29% female; mean age 57 ± 14 years). The former group experienced significantly lower levels of meaningfulness (p = 0.001, η2 = 0.076), self-control (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.090), and generativity (p = 0.025, η2 = 0.034) than the latter. As expected, the actualization of generative orientations in life enhanced both gifted groups’ meaningfulness and, in further consequence, their subjective well-being over time. Furthermore, the positive association between life meaning and subjective well-being was enhanced by trait self-control among the intellectually gifted but not among the high academic achievers. However, as proposed, the latter’s subjective well-being was strongly related to self-control. Results highlight that a generative orientation can help gifted individuals to advance a personal sense of meaning and happiness over time. In this context, intellectually gifted individuals appear to particularly benefit from self-control. Consequently, the intrinsic willpower to subdue inner responses, emotions as well as undesired behaviors might strengthen the positive effect between sources of meaning, life meaning, and subjective well-being." 

IQ over 130 and phobia: correlation, consequences and other psychopathologies. 2019. The research found that adolescents with IQs over 130 are most likely to be the eldest child. They also found that these children do not develop more phobias but are more shy than their peers. The research also found that there is increased anxiety, increased fears, and fewer social relationships among this gifted group. 

Cross-Lagged Analyses Between Life Meaning, Self-Compassion, and Subjective Well-being Among Gifted Adults. 2019. This research found that gifted adults experienced significantly lower levels of meaningfulness, subjective well-being, and self-compassion compared to the general population. A sense of meaningfulness was a significant predictor of subjective well-being over time. 

Coping strategies adopted by adolescents: A comparative study in relation to gifted status, gender, and family size. 2019. This study from Jordan looked at gifted adolescents compared to their peers to see if the two groups used different coping strategies. They found that gifted adolescents were more likely to see professional help as a coping strategy. The researchers conclude, "This tendency may contribute to their ability to adjust better with difficulties and daily hassles and may even suggest their inclination to adopting active (behavioral) strategies more often than the non-gifted. This agrees with the findings of Frydenberg (1993) who suggested that gifted young people tend to cope through dealing with problems directly."

The Experience of Parenting Gifted Children: A Thematic Analysis of Interviews With Parents of Elementary-Age Children. 2022. From the abstract: "There is a paucity of research on the day-to-day experiences of raising gifted children from the perspective of parents. This qualitative study aimed to delve deeply into the phenomenon by interviewing parents of elementary-age gifted children. We conducted 12 interviews with parents whose children attended gifted schools. The interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis to identify key themes related to the experience of parenting gifted children. Themes identified included the parents’ description of a “child-driven” approach to parenting, experiencing social isolation due to a lack of understanding, and physical and emotional feelings of exhaustion. The findings are particularly important for parents of gifted children, and other professionals who would benefit from a better understanding of the day-to-day experience of raising gifted children."

Intensity in gifted children and adults. "The cognitive perceptions that enable gifted children to process academic information in superior ways also qualitatively impact the psychosocial dimensions of their lives. Overexcitabilities represent common super-sensitive areas in gifted children. However, giftedness does not end with adulthood and neither do the complex processes of intensities. Five successful intense gifted adults shared their journey of development. Themes of hyperawareness, isolation, and finding peers were identified as commonalities among the participants. This study represents the first step in a research agenda that aims to develop programs to help intense gifted children learn to understand and accept their intensities." Antonia (Toni) Szymanski & Melissa Wrenn (2019) Growing Up With Intensity: Reflections on the Lived Experiences of Intense, Gifted Adults, Roeper Review, 41:4,243-257,DOI:10.1080/02783193.2019.1661054

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