The Role of Domains in the Conceptualization of Talent

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In this article we present research concerning important aspects of domain-specific giftedness. Specifically, we address the evidence regarding the relationship between specific abilities and achievement. Empirical evidence suggests that specific abilities have been used widely and validly for identification of exceptional talent in performance domains, and mathematical and spatial reasoning ability have demonstrated predictive validity for achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) domains. We note that domains of talent have unique trajectories and discuss four critical aspects of domain-specific giftedness. These include the developmental nature of giftedness (giftedness moves from potential to competency to expertise and possibly to eminence over time); the temporal nature of giftedness (that domains vary in their starting, peak, and ending points); the contextual aspect of giftedness (societal value of some domains over others, changing of domains and emergence of new domains, and the environmental influences in fostering domain-specific achievement); and the relative nature of giftedness (childhood giftedness is advancement relative to age peers, and adult giftedness is exceptional achievement relative to other domain experts). Finally, we present some implications of a domain perspective on giftedness for educational practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalRoeper Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017


  • gifted theory
  • talent development
  • talent domains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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