Rethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education: A Proposed Direction Forward Based on Psychological Science

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

755 Scopus citations


For nearly a century, scholars have sought to understand, measure, and explain giftedness. Succeeding theories and empirical investigations have often built on earlier work, complementing or sometimes clashing over conceptions of talent or contesting the mechanisms of talent development. Some have even suggested that giftedness itself is a misnomer, mistaken for the results of endless practice or social advantage. In surveying the landscape of current knowledge about giftedness and gifted education, this monograph will advance a set of interrelated arguments: The abilities of individuals do matter, particularly their abilities in specific talent domains; different talent domains have different developmental trajectories that vary as to when they start, peak, and end; and opportunities provided by society are crucial at every point in the talent-development process. We argue that society must strive to promote these opportunities but that individuals with talent also have some responsibility for their own growth and development. Furthermore, the research knowledge base indicates that psychosocial variables are determining influences in the successful development of talent. Finally, outstanding achievement or eminence ought to be the chief goal of gifted education. We assert that aspiring to fulfill one's talents and abilities in the form of transcendent creative contributions will lead to high levels of personal satisfaction and self-actualization as well as produce yet unimaginable scientific, aesthetic, and practical benefits to society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-54
Number of pages52
JournalPsychological Science in the Public Interest, Supplement
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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