Find relevant reading, research, and resources about gifted adults below. Be sure to log into the Facebook group for relevant discussions. You can also find additional resources on gifted women, the latest gifted research, and the latest gifted news. The blog also has relevant materials for gifted adults.
Are you a gifted adult?
Scroll through and see how many of these resonate with you. (Not all gifted adults resonate with all statements, but you'll likely see yourself in several of these!)
The Gifted Challenge
Gifted can be a misnomer and imply that being gifted is always good. The reality is that we know there are challenges that gifted adults face.
Existential depression, or seeing the discrepancies between how things could be and how they are, is common in gifted people. We witness injustice and want to change it; we may feel lonely by seeing things in such a unique light.
Feelings of loneliness extend beyond depression and injustice for many gifted adults. We often know we are different, don't feel understood, and have trouble relating to our peers. We may not be interested in conversations they are having or we find it hard to identify mutual topics of interest.
Gifted adults are known to intentionally underachieve. We learn to adapt to our environments and escape the envy and judgement of our peers and coworkers. We often downplay our own achievements and accomplishments in order to fit in.
We tend to procrastinate in search of perfection. We also often postpone starting boring tasks in order to complete other tasks that are more interesting.
We often feel like imposters and have trouble seeing ourselves as others see us.
We are often impatient as we wait for others to catch up to where we are. We may be harsh or demanding to loved ones in our lives as they may take too long to arrive at the same conclusions as us.
There are also truly gifts with being gifted, and at the same time, it is important to name and acknowledge that there are challenges that are real. Additional resources and reading are below to help with your self-exploration.
Resources for Gifted Adults
Gifted Grown Ups. This book is the result of a 10-year study of 100 gifted adults, examines how being identified as a "smart kid" early on affects career choices, friendships, and romantic pairings later in life.
The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen. This book is worth a read!
Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG).
Gifted Adults at Work. An article on troubles that gifted adults face in work on the Davidson Institute.
Mermaids and Mermen. An Australian website with dedicated resources for gifted adults.
Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth by Paula Prober
Talented Children and Adults: Their Development and Education by J. Piirto
Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults by Susan Daniels & Michael M. Piechowski
The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen
Fostering Adult Giftedness.
Gifted Support on Tumblr.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Unhealthy Perfectionism But Were Afraid To Ask Because You Think You Ought To Know Everything Already by Paula Prober.
Wander and Delve: A Journal for Bright, Creative, Highly Sensitive People Forging Their Way by Lori L. Cangilla, Ph.D.
Bore-out: A Challenge for Unchallenged Gifted (young) Adults by Fiedler & Nauta, 2020.
The Unicorn's Guide to Survival: Contemplations of a Newly Identified Gifted Adult by Jorge Albaladejo.
How to be Everything by Emilie Wapnick. Great book for all the multipotentialites out there! Check out her TED talk as well!
Research on Gifted Adults
Here are some recent articles, but please jump over to our Gifted Research page for the latest research compiled by interest area (e.g., gifted in the workplace, gifted education, the neurology of giftedness, etc.).
Sociability and need for solitude in gifted adults. Research published in December 2021 that found that "compared to the control group, gifted adults depicted themselves as being more autonomous and goal oriented. They also reported a greater need for solitude, associated with a greater appreciation of their freedom of action and movement. This study was the first to investigate both sociability and desire for solitude in gifted adults. It suggests that gifted adults are highly motivated to engage in positive interactions with others, although they do not express the same needs as their peers regarding the frequency, quantity and quality of these interactions."
Creativity, emotional intelligence and coping style in intellectually gifted adults. Research article from 2020. Preview of abstract available: Although recently there has been a growing interest in gifted adults, the differences between intellectually gifted and nongifted adults in creativity, emotional intelligence and coping style have not yet been deeply studied. In this study, 23 intellectually gifted and 18 intellectually nongifted adults completed the Alternative Uses Task (AUT), the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i), and the Miller Behavioural Style Scale (MBSS). Results indicated that intellectually gifted adults scored higher in the AUT and the blunting subscale of the MBSS than intellectually nongifted adults. However, they showed comparable scores on the EQ-i and the monitoring subscale of the MBSS. This study investigates the characteristics of intellectually gifted adults to adequately support their needs. Citation: Angela, F.R., Caterina, B. Creativity, emotional intelligence and coping style in intellectually gifted adults. Curr Psychol (2020).
Bringing Giftedness to Bear: Generativity, Meaningfulness, and Self-Control as Resources for a Happy Life Among Gifted Adults. Research article from 2019. According to 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, authors hypothesized that the effect of meaningfulness on subjective well-being was conditional on trait 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.
Brilliant: But What For? Meaning and Subjective Well-Being in the Lives of Intellectually Gifted and Academically High-Achieving Adults. Research article from 2017 that examined if highly gifted people manage to live meaningful and happy lives in their adult years. Two aspects of giftedness were taken into account: intellectual giftedness, and academically high achievement. Results showed that High Achievers showed degrees of meaningfulness and subjective well-being that were comparable to those of the control group. The Intellectually Gifted, however, reported significantly lower values in both facets of well-being. Results of hierarchical multiple regressions indicated that Intellectually Gifted and High Achievers follow a different path towards meaningfulness and subjective well-being. Among the Intellectually Gifted, generativity is the strongest predictor for meaningfulness, whereas for the High Achievers, meaningful work is most central to their meaningfulness. As regards subjective well-being, self-compassion was established as the strongest predictor for the Intellectually Gifted, whereas development was the most important predictor for the High Achievers.
Achievement Across the Life Span: Perspectives From the Terman Study of the Gifted by Holahan CK published in July 2020. The study notes that the Terman Study of the Gifted studied the implications of achievement for life satisfaction in adulthood and aging. They found that a large portion of the men in the study reported that they had reached high levels of occupational achievement. However, the reports of the women were more varied. The researchers noted that the participants’ self-appraisals of having lived up to their intellectual abilities were generally positive, and that these appraisals were related to lifetime achievement pattern and gender. They also found that early knowledge of being labeled as gifted was negatively related to participants’ appraisals of their life accomplishments in adulthood.
High IQ May "Mask" the Diagnosis of ADHD by Compensating for Deficits in Executive Functions in Treatment-Naïve Adults With ADHD. 2017. Takeaway: Adults with ADHD and higher IQ showed fewer executive functioning deficits compared with those with ADHD and standard IQ. The authors suggest that higher IQ may compensate for deficits in executive functions, which in turn can lead to problems in establishing a precise clinical diagnosis.