Gifted Research

These are the highlights of gifted research that are emerging as we watch! When relevant, we also cross-post to other resources pages by population. If you see something missing, please let us know! Whenever possible, we link to the full article, but some may be subscription only, so in those cases, we link to the abstract and summarize very briefly the main findings. 

Please note this page is always under construction! 

We've grouped research by the categories here (click one to jump straight there!).

 

Health & IQ

Most research finds that higher IQ is positively correlated with better health outcomes. There are some exceptions though. Read the highlighted articles and key takeaways below for more information. 

High IQ in Early Adulthood Is Associated with Parkinson’s Disease. 2020. This study from Sweden identified high IQ as a risk factor for Parkinson's Disease. 

High intelligence may exacerbate paediatric inflammatory response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. 2021. The authors of this piece propose that high IQ may be linked to increased risk for severe COVID-19 sequelae. They propose a "hyper brain, hyper body" response to infection may be occurring. 

Perfectionism in relation to stress and cardiovascular disease among gifted individuals and the need for affective interventions. 2018. This review article suggests that perfectionism among gifted individuals could lead to negative cardiovascular outcomes. 

Childhood intelligence and adult health: The mediating roles of education and socioeconomic status. 2013. This study found that childhood IQ predicted adult health 40 years later, but it also found that education and adult SES mediated the effects. The study took place in a country with universal healthcare, thus controlling somewhat for access to healthcare, suggesting that IQ was the significant factor in predicting adult health.

Mental Health, Emotions & Giftedness

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

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."

 

Gifted Education

Development and Evaluation of a Pioneer School-Based Gifted Education Program (Project GIFT) for Primary and Secondary Students in Hong Kong. April 2022. Abstract: "In this study, we used a quasi-experimental research design with pretest and post-test data collected from an experimental group and a control group to investigate changes in students after participating in a school-based gifted education program (Project GIFT) in Hong Kong. There were 3207 successfully matched students (3rd to 9th graders) joining the Level 1 program (for all students) alone or both the Level 1 program and Level 2 program (for gifted students). Participants of the experimental and control groups completed validated measures on creativity, multiple intelligences, gifted characteristics, self-efficacy, psychological well-being, and satisfaction with life before and after participating in the program(s). One-way ANCOVA results revealed that students in the experimental groups showed positive changes after joining the program(s), with a greater impact for students joining both Level 1 and Level 2 programs. Students participating in both Level 1 and Level 2 programs displayed significant improvement in creativity, academic performance, logical-mathematical intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, self-efficacy, autonomy, environmental mastery, and personal growth compared to the control counterparts. This study illustrates the benefits of the Level 1 and Level 2 programs in promoting the holistic development of the program participants."

The Importance of Technology in the Education of Gifted in the Context of 21st Century Skills. 2022. Abstract: "Gifted students have unique educational needs due to their superior cognitive skills. In other words, gifted students learn faster, deeper and consistent than their normally developing peers. Besides, creativity is one of the most important features of gifted students. Thus the properties of gifted students should be taken into account while planning their curriculum. Furthermore, due to rapid changes in science and technology, 21st century requires some new skills such as collaboration, communication, Information and Communication Technology literacy, and social and/or cultural competencies. In this context, educators should create learning environments that enable the gifted students to produce divergent thoughts and unusual solutions to global problems. This paper aims to discuss the change in educational sciences and how this change reflects to the learning process of gifted students to reach 21st century skills. The appropriate techniques used in gifted education in order to develop required new skills are reviewed."

The challenges of achieving equity within public school gifted and talented programs. April 2022. Takeaway: the author reviews the inequities within K-12 G&T programs, which has been documented sine the 1970s. The author attempts to outline the reasons behind these inequities and proposes actions that could be taken to combat the inequity and move the field forward. 

*Of note, the theme of all articles published in Gifted Child Quarterly in April 22 are related to inequity within G&T programs. 

The characteristics of gifted children with learning disabilities according to preschool teachers. 2022. Takeaway: study in Turkey found preschool teachers did not believe both giftedness and learning disorders could co-exist and many ignored the idea of twice-exceptional. 

Perfectionism, mattering, stress, and self-regulation of home learning of UK gifted and talented students during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2022. Authors conclude, "Analyses revealed that striving for perfection was related to better effort regulation and better time and environment management. However, negative reactions to imperfection and feeling like they did not matter (anti-mattering) were related to higher academic stress, as well as worse effort regulation and worse time and environment management. The findings suggest aspects of both perfectionism and mattering may be important for GAT students’ ability to study effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Are gifted students more emotionally intelligent than their non-gifted peers? December 2021. Takeaway: Gifted students have higher emotional IQ than their peers, and female gifted students score higher than male gifted students. 

Mathematics camps: A gift for gifted students? November 2021. Takeaway: Math camp is beneficial for gifted kids and has results beyond math including that the kids are more extroverted and improve their problem solving skills. 

Reducing boredom in gifted education—Evaluating the effects of full-time ability grouping. October 2021. Takeaway: There are lots of benefits of grouping gifted students according to their ability, but it doesn't reduce boredom. 

Parenting with eyes wide open: Young gifted children, early entry and social isolation. 2021. This small study from Australia finds that early entry for young gifted children met the needs of those children while children who did not have access to early entry did not have as good of outcomes. They also find that there's an urgent need for compulsory early childhood giftedness courses and training needed for educators. 

What Makes for a "Gifted" Education? Exploring How Participation in Gifted Programs Affects Students' Learning Environments. August 2021.  Takeaway: participation in gifted programs increases access to advanced courses, high-achieving peers, smaller classrooms, and more qualified teachers.

Scientific imagination of gifted and non-gifted middle school students. 2021. Takeaway: Gifted students had higher scientific imagination. 

Academic acceleration in gifted youth and fruitless concerns regarding psychological well-being: A 35-year longitudinal study. 2021. Takeaway: Academic acceleration does not have negative outcomes on children's long-term psychological wellbeing.

The Moderating Influence of School Achievement on Intelligence in Young Adulthood. 2021. A twin study, this research did not find that school achievement moderated the genetic influences or the non-shared environmental influences on intelligence. 

Spatially gifted, academically inconvenienced: Spatially talented students experience less academic engagement and more behavioural issues than other talented students. 2020. Takeaway: Spatially gifted students were not identified easily and had greater academic challenges; tailored interventions are needed for these students.

The identification of gifted underachievement: Validity evidence for the commonly used methods. 2022. Researchers looked at how gifted underachievers are identified. They found that a difference in predicted achievement from actual achievement may be the best option. 

Being over- or underchallenged in class: Effects on students' career aspirations via academic self-concept and boredom. 2019. This study found that being overchallenged had a negative impact on academic self-concept which was associated with decreased career aspirations. Being underchallenged enhanced academic self-concept but enhanced their boredom experiences resulting in a decrease in career aspirations. This may be a case highlighting the Goldilocks of this situation...it needs to be just right for each kiddo!

 

Twice Exceptional

Non-cognitive Characteristics of Gifted Students With Learning Disabilities: An In-depth Systematic Review. 2018. This meta-analysis looked at 23 publications related to 2e kiddos. They found that these children had high levels of negative emotions, low self-perception, and adverse interpersonal relationships, alongside high levels of motivation, coping skills and perseverance. These students were also likely to exhibit a high degree of frustration with the academic situation.

Profiles and academic trajectories of cognitively gifted children with autism spectrum disorder. 2019. This secondary data analysis finds that 2e students show higher initial levels of academic performance compared to their peers; they also improve over time relative to their counterparts. They also use mental health services more than their counterparts. 

Understanding the Academic Success of Academically Talented College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2021. Researchers talk to university students with ASD and find that they benefited from advanced academic content, enriched learning opportunities, ability to focus on their areas of interest and choice in what they were learning. They also benefited from connections within a support system. The researchers argue for inclusion of talent development opportunities especially extracurricular activities as goals for 2e students. 

Twice-exceptional students: Review of implications for special and inclusive education. 2021. This literature review finds that the following are needed in order to ensure 2e students are able to access inclusive education: teacher preparation, a continuum of special education interventions, the need for collaboration with parents and specialists, and teachers need to focus on developing strengths as much as mediating difficulties. 

Parenting for strengths: Embracing the challenges of raising children identified as twice exceptional. 2021. Authors discuss how parents can find educational opportunities for their 2E children. 

 
 

Personality & Giftedness

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." 

Self-assessed intelligence, objective intelligence and the higher-order structure of personality. May 2022. Perhaps not surprising, but this study found that intelligence (self-assessed and objective) was highly correlated with plasticity, which is characterized by the tendency to explore and seek novelty.

Personality differences in gifted versus non-gifted individuals: A three-level meta-analysis. November 2021. Takeaway: Gifted people are more open to new experiences. 

Consistent evidence of a link between Alexithymia and general intelligence. 2020. Alexithymia is characterized by difficulty in identifying and expressing feelings. This study found a significant negative association between alexithymia and general intelligence. 

 

Social Functioning & Giftedness

Outlanders: Loneliness experience of gifted girls. April 2022. This small study of 4 gifted middle school girls found the girls felt separate from their school, like an outsider, due to being treated like a stranger by their peers. Their stories highlighted that being alone became part of their norm, and they felt lonely and dissimilar from their peers. 

The influence of intelligence and sex on interpersonal skills and executive functions in children. January 2022. Takeaway: Children with higher IQ showed higher interpersonal skills and executive functions. Boys in high IQ group showed higher working memory, inhibition, and cause attribution in interpersonal conflicts. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being "Gifted": Perceptions of the Label by Gifted Pupils. 2021. This research in the Czech Republic found that being labelled as gifted had positives like feeling good about oneself and more educational opportunities. However, it also found gifted pupils had higher chance of being singled out from their peer groups, used for school work, and even bullied. 

Bullshit Ability as an Honest Signal of Intelligence. 2021.  The researchers found that bullshit ability is associated with an individual's intelligence and individuals capable of producing more satisfying bullshit are judged by second-hand observers to be more intelligent. The researchers conclude that, "The ability to produce satisfying bullshit may serve to assist individuals in negotiating their social world, both as an energetically efficient strategy for impressing others and as an honest signal of intelligence."

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." 

Emotion Perception in Members of Norwegian Mensa. 2019. The researchers wanted to test whether there is a cost to giftedness in social interaction and specifically with emotion perception. They found the intellectually gifted were better at recognizing emotion, especially anger. They summarize that their findings support that gifted people are also better at recognizing emotions, thus not supporting a cost of gif

Executive Functioning & Giftedness

The influence of intelligence and sex on interpersonal skills and executive functions in children. January 2022. Takeaway: Children with higher IQ showed higher interpersonal skills and executive functions. Boys in high IQ group showed higher working memory, inhibition, and cause attribution in interpersonal conflicts. 

Alerting, orienting, and executive control in intellectually gifted children. 2021. High IQ children aren't different from their peers in a processing speed task, but they are superior in accuracy of processing. The researchers conclude that high IQ children have better ability to focus voluntarily to solve simple perceptual tasks. 

Cognitive correlates of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents with high intellectual ability. 2020. This research aimed to explore whether ADHD looks different in high IQ kiddos compared to their peers. The authors summarize, "Our findings indicate the cognitive profile of ADHD is similar in highly versus average intelligent individuals with ADHD, although ADHD-related cognitive deficits may be easily overlooked in the high intelligence population when compared to the typical (i.e., average intelligent) control group." 

The role of intelligence in decision-making in early adolescence. 2019. This research found that intelligence was positively associated with risk adjustment and quality of decision making in adolescent boys and girls. Additionally, girls' risk adjustment was positively related to IQ gains. The researchers write, "Our findings suggest that there are important, substantively, associations between intelligence and adapting behaviour to risk at the cusp of adolescence, the period when the response to risk can shape life trajectories."

High intelligence and the risk of ADHD and other psychopathology. 2018. Researchers found that higher IQ was related to fewer attention problems. Those children with attention problems, including those with higher IQ, had higher functional impairment at school. The researchers found that attention problems in children with high IQ were exceptional but when found, they did affect school performance. 

 

Sleep & Giftedness

Sleep characteristics and socio-emotional functioning of gifted children. August 2021. Takeaway: Gifted children are more likely than peers to experience sleep difficulties. However, Sleep behaviors and handedness in gifted and non-gifted children (Sept 2021) and others did not find significant differences in sleep patterns between gifted and non-gifted children.

Circadian preference and intelligence - an updated meta-analysis. (2021). The researchers found no significant link between morningness and intelligence among the large sample, but they found a moderating effect for age. The morningness-intelligence correlation decreased with age moving from a non-significant positive trend in children and adolescents to a significant negative correlation after young adulthood. Eveningness was positively correlated with intelligence when based on an age-restricted sample. The researchers hypothesize that the age-moderated correlation between circadian preference and intelligence reflects social effects, where more intelligent individuals are more able to adjust their daily schedules to their natural circadian rhythm.

The relationship between chronotype and intelligence: the importance of work timing. 2020. Study found that there was no difference in chronotype between Mensa members and matched controls. Mensa members who had later sleep timing was due to later work start times and not physiological differences. The researchers hypothesize that later working times and associated lower social jetlag may be one of the reasons that those with higher IQ are associated with lower morbidity and mortality.  

 

Exercise & Giftedness

Tai Chi exercise training enhances executive function and fluid intelligence of healthy older adults: Cross-sectional and longitudinal evidence. Nov 2021. Key takeaways: Tai Chi training benefits older adults' fluid intelligence and inhibition skills. Executive function and fluid intelligence are two functions believed to be susceptible to aging. Research here suggests that tai chi is beneficial for new trainees in improving their inhibition, which in turn helps with fluid intelligence. 

Physical activity and self-concept in gifted students: A comparison with non-gifted students. October 2021. This study found gifted students had higher academic self-concept and lower self-perceived athletic ability than their non-gifted peers. However, physical activity was correlated with better physical and self-concepts for all students. 

 

Neurology of Giftedness

Neuroanatomical differences in the memory systems of intellectual giftedness and typical development. 2021. Intellectually gifted children had larger subcortical structures and more robust white matter microstructural organization between those structures in regions associated with explicit memory while typically developing children had larger subcortical structures in regions associated with implicit memory. The researchers conclude that the brains of intellectually gifted children are differently sized and connected, which also suggests different learning strategies. 

Meta-analysis of associations between human brain volume and intelligence differences: How strong are they and what do they mean? 2015. A meta-analysis reveals that there is an overestimation of the relationship between brain volume and IQ. However, it also finds that there is an association between the two, although the effects have been declining over time. 

 

Reproduction & Giftedness

Intelligence and Fitness: The Mediating Role of Educational Level. 2017. Research found that higher IQ individuals tended to delay reproduction (choosing to have children later in life), which affected their total reproduction success. 

Do income and marriage mediate the relationship between cognitive ability and fertility? Data from Swedish taxation and conscriptions registers for men born 1951-1967. 2021. Researchers found that men with higher cognitive ability had higher fertility, while men who were of low cognitive ability and low income had low fertility and high rates of childlessness. The researchers conclude that there is strong evidence that men with lower cognitive ability had lower access to marriage and reproduction. 

No evidence for a relationship between intelligence and ejaculate quality. 2020. This research did not find a relationship between intelligence and ejaculate quality. Why would someone look at this? Well, there is some research that suggests that genetic quality overall might be expressed across many traits, which the researchers also believed could have been across ejaculate quality as well. In fact, a previously published study in 2009 did find a positive correlation between intelligence and semen quality. We may need a few more studies on this one before we know the answer! 

Cognitive Ecology in Humans: The Role of Intelligence in Reproductive Ecology. 2020. Researchers found that intelligence was positively associated with both planned and observed age at first reproduction and negatively with expected total fertility. They also found that the childhood environment played a role in fertility and reproduction as well. They conclude with support for the hypothesis that individuals with higher intelligence may have a slow life history behavioral trait (basically that smarter folks wait longer to have kids). 

The decline of the world's IQ. 2008. Researchers argue that the world's IQ is dropping. They believe that there is dysgenic fertility occurring, which means there is a negative correlation between intelligence and number of children. Smarter people are having fewer kids. 

 

Work & Giftedness

How can wellbeing at work and sustainable employability of gifted workers be enhanced? A qualitative study from a capability approach perspective. 2021.  Researchers looked at a sample of individuals with IQ above 98th percentile.  They found that participants valued the opportunity to learn, to use their knowledge and skills, and  had high ethical standards. They also reported enjoying colleagues as sparring partners but had an aversion to small talk.

The relationship between chronotype and intelligence: the importance of work timing. 2020. Study found that there was no difference in chronotype between Mensa members and matched controls. Mensa members who had later sleep timing was due to later work start times and not physiological differences. The researchers hypothesize that later working times and associated lower social jetlag may be one of the reasons that those with higher IQ are associated with lower morbidity and mortality. 

Brilliant: But What For? Meaning and Subjective Well-Being in the Lives of Intellectually Gifted and Academically High-Achieving Adults. 2017. Abstract: "Two aspects of giftedness were taken into account: intellectual giftedness, and academically high achievement. Representatives of both groups were compared with each other and a control group with regard to meaningfulness and subjective well-being, respectively. Furthermore, predictors for both facets of well-being were examined. The sample consisted of 198 Intellectually Gifted, 141 academically High Achievers, and 136 control subjects. Results: 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."

 

Enrichment & Giftedness

“Developing Capabilities”. Inclusive Extracurricular Enrichment Programs to Improve the Well-Being of Gifted Adolescents. 2021. This study found that gifted adolescents who participated in an extracurricular enrichment program had better outcomes related to psychological and subjective wellbeing, higher positive moods, and a reduction in school fears. 

Mathematics camps: A gift for gifted students? November 2021. Takeaway: Math camp is beneficial for gifted kids and has results beyond math including that the kids are more extroverted and improve their problem solving skills. 

 

Giftedness Misc.

Even the stars think that I am superior: Personality, intelligence and belief in astrology. April 2022. This is one of the most unique studies that I've seen recently! Takeaway: Belief in astrology was strongly correlated with narcissism, while those with higher intelligence had the lowest beliefs in astrology. 

Residential and school green and blue spaces and intelligence in children: The Generation XXI birth cohort. 2022.  Study from Portugal that found that children with urban green spaces around their residences had higher performance and higher global IQ. Note similar studies in Rome and elsewhere have found similar results and have shown some mediating role of nitrogen dioxide. 

Intelligence quotient decline following frequent or dependent cannabis use in youth: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. 2021. This meta review found that there was an average decline of 2 IQ points after exposure to cannabis in youth!