Characteristics of Giftedness

Giftedness in Socio-historial Perspective
Parenting for Achievement

Overcoming Underachievement

Gifted people can be very different from one another, and no one person will exhibit all the characteristics listed below.  These characteristics may be manifested in both positive and negative ways.
Talks a lot and has an unusually large vocabulary.
May do things earlier than others of average intelligence.  
May be bigger, stronger and healthier than age peers.
Is highly sensitive.
Shows uneven rate of development, e.g., relative  developmental
   delays in fine motor control are not uncommon, especially among
   gifted boys.
Sees and understands things cognitively before having the emotional resources to
   deal with what s/he sees.
Seems to have endless energy and can be exhausting for adults to deal with.
Likes to collect things of interest to him/her.
Is sensitive to beauty.
Prefers games with rules that may be too complicated for age peers of average
   intelligence to follow and enjoy.
Lacks awareness of the impact his/her gifts and behavior may have on other people.

Is curious about many things; asks endless probing
   questions about such things as life, death, social
   and political injustice, and other world problems.

Loves to read, and reads at an advanced level.

Needs mental stimulation (brain food); needs to

Loves to learn and has a larger than average fund of
   general knowledge.

Learns rapidly and easily; absorbs information like a

Reasons well, and solves problems at a superior level.

Typically performs at least one or two grades above age- and grade-level
   expectations academically.

Can concentrate and pay attention for long periods; may want to continue working
   on a project long after classmates have moved on to other things.

May finish only part of a project and then decide to do something else.

Is easily bored by rote memorization and routine or repetitive tasks; may find
   schoolwork boring.

Feels different and may behave differently from age
   peers of average intelligence.

Is intense, and  may have intensely focused

May have such varied interests and abilities that
   making choices among them may be difficult; may
   need help setting priorities and focusing energies
   and efforts.

Interests and actions may diverge from traditional
   sex-role norms and expectations.

Tends toward over-reliance on intellect for coping
   and defense, even in emotional situations.

May be overly competitive, or may refuse to compete.

May lack close friends and feel lonely and socially isolated, even when popular.

Organizes and leads group activities; may dominate others and act bossy.

May stand aloof, be self-sufficient, and seem to be a loner.

May show a preference for friends who are older. 

May lack trust in authority figures.

Has a strong sense of right and wrong, justice and fairness.

Has the ability to conceptualize using abstractions and a variety of symbol systems:
   verbal, visual, mathematical, musical, chemical, artistic, etc. Enjoys playing with
   symbol systems through puns, math problems, etc.

Has an excellent sense of humor.

Is very observant. Perceives problems, connections, cause and effect relationships
   and inconsistencies that others may miss. Looks for similarities and differences.

Draws generalizations and can transfer learning from one situation to another; this
   may be both an aid to learning and a source of difficulty in interpersonal relationships.

Sets high expectations for self and others.

Strives for perfection, and may procrastinate.

Has low frustration tolerance and may become impatient with others less able.

May be unreasonably critical of self and others.

Has greater than average needs for independence, and prefers to work

Shows initiative, needs little direction, and is very resourceful.

Has high needs for self-actualization. May have a sense of mission or purpose.

Has exceptional talent in art, music,
   writing, dance or drama.

Is adventurous, uninhibited, and a risk

Shows a preference for global-
   simultaneous, Gestalt-like, intuitive

Likes to invent new things and devise
   different ways of doing things.

Seeks creative alternatives, generates original ideas, and sees multiple solutions to

May see and say things that challenge the status quo.

Loves to fantasize or daydream, and play around with ideas.

Shows high level of imagination when creating stories, improvisations, and excuses.

Prefers complexity, accepts disorder, and is able to delay closure.

This list of characteristics combines the author's professional experience with ideas derived from materials written by Barbara Clarke (1997), Howard Gardner (1993), Ann Isaacs (1976), and James LoGiudice (2003).

Copyright 2003 by C. Suzanne Schneider, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.