Giftedness and eminence: Clarifying the relationship

Frank C. Worrell*, Rena F. Subotnik, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Who are outstandingly creative individuals that come to mind in music, sport, psychology, physics, or architecture? Almost everyone can think of someone whom they would label eminent. Some of these eminent individuals may be from the past, whereas others are still with us. In the extant literature, there are robust strands of research on giftedness and talent, expertise, and eminence. However, researchers in one strand often do not reference those in the other strands. The talent development megamodel (TDMM) was developed from an integration of literature on giftedness, expertise, and eminence, arguing that expertise is a point far beyond novice on the talent development trajectory, and eminence is the label reserved for the top contributors in a domain. In this paper, we review the literature situating eminence as the endpoint of a talent development trajectory, which can begin with gifted identification in schools and we highlight theories of giftedness which support this contention. Finally, we provide examples from several performance and production domains highlighting the TDMM’s proposed trajectory from potential to achievement to expertise, and sometimes, to eminence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalGifted and Talented International
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Eminence
  • gifted education
  • talent development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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