Gatekeeping in High-Performance Settings

Steven E. Knotek*, Megan Foley-Nicpon, Aaron Kozbelt, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Steve Portenga, Rena F. Subotnik, Frank C. Worrell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Gatekeeping is an ever-present feature in the distribution of and access to educational resources in many aspects of our lives. In high performance domains, a gatekeeping process determines acceptance into elite training programs, invitations to perform, drafting onto elite sports teams, and matriculation into graduate school. Gatekeeping can be defined as the process by which an arbiter influences high performers’ transitions between and ascension within developmental stages and can culminate with outstanding performance in a field. In this article, we briefly review the history of the research of gatekeeping. Next, we consider criteria that are specifically related to the role of gatekeeping in high performance and, then, we explore gatekeeping in the domains of the performing arts, sport, and academics. The final section discusses future directions for investigation and enhancement of the practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-267
Number of pages14
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • developmental stages
  • gatekeeping
  • gifted and talented
  • high performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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