Personality dimensions of gifted adolescents
Olszewski-Kubilius, P., Kulieke, M. J.
Gifted Child Quarterly
Teachers College Press
pp. 125-145
1989

This article by Paula Olszewski-Kubilius and Marilynn Kulieke examines the literature on the personality dimensions of gifted adolescents. It also presents a study they conducted with participants from the Midwest Talent Search summer program. The purposes of the research were to provide a detailed, comprehensive, gender-specific profile of gifted adolescents, to address the issue of psychological maturity with a sample of gifted students by comparing them to older students, and to determine to what extent gifted female and male adolescents differ from one another.

Within the literature on gifted individuals there are many studies that examine personality dimensions. These studies cover a variety of age groups and employ many different personality instruments, yet they can be categorized around several key issues. One broad area of research has to do with discerning personality differences between gifted and non-gifted individuals. Within this area comparisons can be made between gifted students and non-gifted same age peers and between gifted students and non-gifted chronologically older students. Studies of the first type address the issue of whether gifted individuals have unique patterns of personality characteristics compared to non-gifted agemates, while the second addresses the issue of early psychological maturity for the gifted.

Another broad area of research has to do with differences on personality dimensions within gifted populations. Comparisons between gifted females and males predominate. The literature within each of these three areas will be reviewed briefly as a prelude to a study that also addresses these issues.

REVIEW OF RESEARCH

Comparisons Between Gifted and Nongifted Individuals of the Same Age

Because there are so many studies that address this issue and because the personality constructs they examine are so varied, the studies will be grouped and presented by broad age ranges.

Elementary School Children. Several researchers studying anxiety in high IQ students have found that they have lower levels of anxiety than their more average counterparts. Scholwinski and Reynolds (1985) gave the Manifest Anxiety Scale to high-IQ elementary school children and found lower levels of anxiety among the gifted students, compared to norming groups of same-age children. Lower levels of anxiety about school were found by Davis and Connell (1985) for high-IQ fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, compared to nongifted students of the same age. Milgram and Milgram (1976) found that gifted fourth- through eighth-grade Israeli girls (high IQ) had lower scores on the Wallach and Kogan versions of the Sarason scales of anxiety, when compared to nongifted girls of the same age.

Several studies comparing gifted to nongifted students on self-esteem and self-concept have found that the gifted students obtain higher scores on these measures. High-IQ elementary-school-age children have been shown to have higher scores on the personal worth and self-esteem subscales of the California Test of Personality (Lehman & Erdwins, 1981). Maddux, Scheiber, and Bass (1982) obtained higher scores for the intellectually gifted sixth graders on the Piers-Harris self-concept instrument, compared to nongifted students. Ketcham and Snyder (1977) found that their sample of high-IQ children, grades 2 through 4, had higher self-concept scores than a same-age norming group in the same instrument.

Milgram and Milgram (1976) utilized the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale and found that their gifted fourth-through eighth-grade students had greater feelings of personal adequacy in the family, were less guarded and defensive, and gave fewer indications of psychological disturbance, compared to same-age nongifted students. On the other hand, the older nongifted students in this study had a more positive body image, described themselves more positively, and reported a greater sense of personal worth and self-confidence, compared to their gifted counterparts.

Several studies with elementary school children have found differences between gifted and nongifted students on measures of locus of control. Milgram and Milgram (1976) reported differences for their sample of fourth- through eighth-grade students; the gifted students had significantly greater internal locus of control and thus assumed more responsibility for past events and expressed greater feelings of competence to affect future desirable events. Davis and Connell (1985) similarly reported that gifted fourth, fifth, and sixth graders were higher than average on intrinsic motivation and autonomy of judgment, and lower on feeling that their behavior was controlled by unknown causes. Lucito (1964) found that high-IQ sixth graders were significantly less conforming than low-IQ children of the same age. Thus, gifted elementary school students appear to be more internally focused, at least regarding their own achievement.

Finally, one study found differences on aspects of sociability for gifted and nongifted students. Lehman and Erdwins (1981) compared gifted high- IQ elementary-school-age children to average IQ students and found their high-IQ third graders had higher scores on several of the social subscales on the California Test of Personality, notably social skills and cooperation.

Adolescents. There are several studies that focus on the personality dimensions of gifted adolescents. The Milgram and Milgram (1976) report previously mentioned indicates that among fourth- through eighth-grade gifted students, the older gifted students had less positive self-perceptions, compared to their same-age, nongifted counterparts. Killian (1983) found no differences between gifted and nongifted seventh through twelfth graders on the High School Personality Questionnaire, which assesses dimensions such as extroversion, anxiety, independence, school achievement, creativity, neuroticism, and leadership.

The California Psychological Inventory (cpi) is probably the most frequently used personality instrument for adolescent populations and includes dimensions such as dominance, capacity for status, sociability, social presence, self-acceptance, sense of well-being, responsibility, social maturity, self-control, tolerance, good impression, achievement via conformity and independence, intellectual efficiency, psychological mindedness, flexibility, and femininity. Lessinger and Martinson (1961) report that eighth-grade gifted boys show favorable differences (i.e., higher average scores) on every scale of the cpi, compared to a random group of eighth-grade boys. The gifted girls in their study were also higher on every CPI subscale, except for femininity, than a random sample of same-age girls.

Bachtold (1969) used the Survey of Interpersonal Values with seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade gifted students and found that gifted males placed less value on recognition than nongifted males, while gifted females placed more value on independence compared to nongifted females.

Several studies of gifted adolescents have looked specifically at the personality dimensions of individuals gifted in mathematics. Kennedy (1962) found that these students had profiles on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory that were within normal limits. Dagget-Pollins (1983) found that eighth graders gifted in mathematics were higher on the CPI subscales of flexibility and psychological mindedness, and lower on their general sense of well-being and need to make a good impression, when compared to a random group of eighth graders. Haier and Denham (1976) found that eighth-grade males gifted in math were generally dissimilar to a random group of eighth-grade males on the CPI subscales. The greatest differences were found on achievement via independence and degree of flexibility and adaptability, with the gifted males scoring higher than the other student group.

Eighth-grade girls gifted in math were also found to be dissimilar to a random sample of same-age females on subscales of the CPI and were particularly low on femininity, achievement via conformity, and socialization (degree of social maturity and integrity), compared to the control group (Haier & Denham, 1976). These gifted girls were higher on achievement via independence than the nongifted girls.

Both girls and boys gifted in math were found by Dagget-Pollins(1983) and Haier and Denham (1976) to place higher value on theoretical and political interests/motives and lower value on religion on the Allport Study of Values, compared to nongifted students of the same age, but these differences were not statistically significant.

A study of older adolescents using the CPI (Purkey, 1966) found that gifted high school students generally were better adjusted and possessed more "favorable" personality characteristics, when compared to average high school students. In this study, gifted students scored significantly higher on almost all of the 18 scales of the CPI, compared to nongifted students, except for socialization and femininity for males and socialization, self-control, and femininity for females. Bonsall and Stefflre (1955), however, found few differences between gifted and nongifted high school seniors on aspects of temperament such as general activity, restraint, sociability, emotional stability, friendliness, thoughtfulness, and cooperation, when socioeconomic status (SES) was controlled. This latter study suggested that in many personality studies, particularly those comparing samples where SES may be unknown and/or confounded with group membership, differences on personality dimensions may not be reliable.

In summary, research that has focused on discerning differences between gifted students and their same-age, nongifted counterparts has tended to find that differences do exist and that they generally favor gifted students. Gifted students appear to be more independent, intrinsically motivated, flexible, self-accepting, and psychologically well adjusted than their nongifted peers. There is also some limited evidence to suggest that young adolescent gifted students are somewhat lower on measures of general well-being than their same-age peers.

Comparisons Between Gifted Students and Nongifted, Chronologically Older Individuals

There are several studies that address the issue of early psychological maturity for gifted students by comparing their scores or profiles on personality instruments to those of nongifted individuals who are older in age. The studies attempt to discern whether gifted students show developmental advancement in their personality functioning that is similar to their developmental advancement in intellectual functioning. Lehman and Erdwins (1981) compared high-IQ third graders, average third graders, and average sixth graders on the California Test of Personality. The gifted children differed significantly from both average groups on various subscales. They were higher than the average third graders on sense of personal worth, social skills, antisocial tendencies, and sense of personal freedom. They were also higher than the average sixth graders on personal freedom, cooperation, and self-esteem. However, the authors note that there was no consistent pattern to the differences obtained, and thus it is not clear whether or not the gifted students evidenced early psychological maturity.

Ritchie, Bernard, and Shertzer (1982) gave their academically talented 10-year-olds a test of interpersonal sensitivity and found that they performed slightly better than average 10-year-olds but not as well as academically average 12-year-olds. These authors concluded that sensitivity in interpersonal situations does not show the kind of developmental advancement that cognitive tasks or cognitively laden personality attributes (e.g., achievement orientation) do for gifted children.

On the CPI, Lessinger and Martinson (1961) found that gifted eighth-grade girls were similar to gifted high school girls on 11 of the 18 scales. The high school females were higher on capacity for status, social presence, self-acceptance, achievement via independence, dominance, and intellectual efficiency, while the eighth-grade girls were higher on sociability. For the males in the study, Lessinger and Martinson also found that "the maturity of the gifted eighth graders (boys) was much more closely related to that of the gifted high school boys" (p. 573). Similarly, Davids (1966) found that gifted high school girls and boys obtain scores on the CPI that are closer to norms for college-age girls and boys than to the norms for same-age children.

Thus, there is limited research evidence that gifted children may evidence personality functioning for certain variables that is more mature than expected for their age.

Comparisons Between Gifted Females and Gifted Males

There are a few studies that examine differences between gifted females and males, all dealing with students who are of junior high age or older.

Bachtold (1969) found that 12- to 14-year-old gifted males gave less value to support and benevolence and higher value to leadership, compared to gifted girls, but the groups did not differ on dimensions such as conformity, need for recognition, or independence. Haier and Denham (1976) found that eighth-grade girls and boys gifted in math had very similar profiles on the CPI, and Davids (1966) found no differences between high-achieving high school boys and girls, using the same instrument.

Killian (1983) found no differences between gifted girls and boys from grades 7 through 12, on the High School Personality Questionnaire (HSPQ). Karnes, Chauvin, and Trent (1984), however, did find some differences between gifted high school boys and girls on the HSPQ: Gifted mates were more tenderminded, sensitive, and overprotected than gifted females. Gifted females were more excitable, impatient, and unrestrained, compared to gifted mates. Fox (1976) found that junior-high-age females who had high SAT scores (talent search participants) had significantly higher scores on the aesthetic, social, and religious scales of the Allport-Lindzey Study of Values, compared to talent search males; while males had higher scores on the theoretical, economic, and political scales, compared to females.

Finally, for college students, Tomlinson-Keasey and Smith-Winberry (1983) reported that gifted college males, based on scores on the CPI, could be characterized as more active, ambitious, forceful, insightful, resourceful, versatile, clever, imaginative, outgoing, and rebellious, compared to gifted females. Gifted females, on the other hand, were more honest, industrious, obliging, sincere, modest, steady, conscientious, appreciative, patient, helpful, gentle, respectful, and accepting of others, compared to gifted males.

Thus, most studies comparing gifted males and females do not find substantial differences. Among those that do obtain differences, the variations are consistent with expectations along sex-stereotypical lines.

Summary
In summary, the research literature on personality dimensions of gifted individuals reveals that

  1. Gifted students do differentiate themselves from nongifted same-age peers on personality dimensions, and these differences tend to be favorable to gifted students, at least until adolescence.
  2. There is limited research evidence to suggest that the personality profiles of gifted students, with regard to maturity, resemble or even exceed those of chronologically older, nongifted individuals. Thus there is some support for a hypothesis of early psychological maturity for gifted children.
  3. Gifted females and gifted males are more similar than different on personality profiles, and those differences that exist generally are consistent with sex stereotypes.

METHODOLOGY FOR STUDY OF PERSONALITY DIMENSIONS

The research reported in this chapter examines the personality dimensions, values, needs, and self-concept of a select group of intellectually talented adolescents who participated in a summer program. The study employed a variety of instruments. The purposes of the research were to provide a detailed, comprehensive profile of gifted male and female adolescents, to address the issue of psychological maturity with our sample of students by comparing them to older students, and to determine to what extent gifted female and male adolescents differ from one another.

Subjects
The subjects for this study were drawn from the 306 students who attended the 1985 Midwest Talent Search (MTS) summer program for academically talented students, at Northwestern University. All of the students completed the self-concept assessment, while a smaller sample (n = 111) completed the other personality instruments. Sample sizes vary slightly due to missing data. The students had SAT scores of 430 or greater on the verbal subtest or 500 or greater on the mathematics subtest. The sample was approximately 60% male and 40% female. The students' ages ranged from 11 to 16, although the majority (62.1%) were 13 or 14 years old. The sample was 69.4% Caucasian, 27% Oriental, and 3.6% of other racial background. Sixty-two percent came from families with an income of over $50,000 per year.

Instrumentation
The factor structures obtained by the authors of each instrument were used with our sample of subjects. Each instrument used a paper-and-pencil format.

The Allport-Lindzey Study of Values. The purpose of the Allport-Lindzey Study of Values (SOV) is to measure the relative prominence of six basic interests or motives in personality (Allport, Vernon, & Lindzey, 1970). The six scales and their corresponding interests are:

  1. Theoretical--interest in discovery of truth
  2. Economic--interest in what is useful
  3. Aesthetic--highest value on form and harmony
  4. Social--highest value on love of people
  5. Political--interest in power
  6. Religious--highest value on unity

The test is constructed so that 40 is the average score for any scale.

High School Personality Questionnaire. The High School Personality Questionnaire (HSPQ) is a self-report inventory that measures 14 personality characteristics (Cattell, Cattell, & Johns, 1984). It is intended for use with 12- through 18–year-olds. The scales are (1) warmth, (2) intelligence, (3) emotional stability, (4), excitability, (5) dominance, (6) cheerfulness, (7) conformity, (8) boldness, (9) sensitivity, (10) withdrawal, (11) apprehension, (12) self-sufficiency, (13) self-discipline, and (14) tension.

School Motivation Analysis Test. The School Motivation Analysis Test (SMAT) (Krug, Sweeney, & Cattell, 1976) is an objective paper-and-pencil instrument of 10 predictive and meaningful dynamic primary traits. These are (1) assertiveness, (2) mating/sex (heterosexual drive), (3) fear, (4) narcissism (sensual satisfaction), (5) pugnacity/sadism (need to compete against and defeat others), (6) protectiveness/pity (maternalistic or paternalistic feelings), (7) self-sentiment (security of the self), (8) superego, (9) sentiment to school, and (10) sentiment to home. The first six traits are considered to be primary drives, while the last four are acquired interest patterns.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Briggs-Myers, 1962) attempts to implement lung's theory regarding basic differences in the way people prefer to use perception and judgment. The four basic pairs of preferences and the ways they structure the individual's personality are as follows: (1) extroversion or introversion-general orientation to the outer versus inner world, (2) sensing or intuitive perception based on the senses or intuition, (3) thinking or feeling-judgments based on true or false versus valued and not valued, and (4) judgment or perception-dealing with the external world using either judgment or perception.

Harter Self-Perception Profile for Children. The Self-Perception Profile for Children (Harter, 1985) consists of five separate subscales of children's perceptions of themselves in different domains, as well as a global measure of self-worth. These six subscales are (1) scholastic competence, (2) social acceptance, (3) athletic competence, (4) physical appearance, (5) behavioral conduct, and (6) global self-worth.

RESULTS

Study of Values

Comparison of Gifted and Norming Groups. The first set of results is related to differences in mean scores, for both sexes combined, in our sample of gifted junior-high-age MTS students and a high-school-age norming sample provided in the handbook from the Allport-Lindzey SOV. Table 8.1. shows that there are significant differences between these groups on four of the six basic values. The MTS group is significantly higher on theoretical, aesthetic, and political interests and significantly lower on religious interest compared to the norming group.

The second set of results also can be found in Table 8.1. which breaks down the same data according to sex. Both male and female MTS students show significantly higher scores on theoretical interest and significantly lower scores on religious interest than their respective norming groups. MTS males show significantly higher political interest than the male norming group, and MTS females show significantly higher aesthetic interest than the female norming group.

In order to determine whether the MTS sample had means similar to an older cohort, they were compared to a norming sample of college students (see Table 8.2). The MTS sample (both sexes combined) still scores significantly higher on theoretical and political interests and significantly lower on religious interests, when compared to the older cohort of students. These findings hold when males and females are examined separately. Thus, gifted males and females differentiate themselves from older students in the same way as they differentiate themselves from nongifted students of the same age.

Comparisons within the Gifted Group. Table 8.1 shows the means and significance levels for comparisons between MTS males and females. This table shows that there are significant within-group differences for five of the six interests. Males have significantly higher scores than females on theoretical, economic, and political interests. Females have significantly higher scores than males on aesthetic and social interests. Males and females do not differ on religious interests.

High School Personality Questionnaire

Comparison of Gifted and Norming Groups. Of the 14 personality characteristics measured by the HSPQ, significant differences were obtained between the MTS students and the same-aged norming group (both sexes combined) on 10 (see Table 8.3). The MTS sample has significantly higher scores than the norming group on warmth, intelligence, emotional stability, dominance, cheerfulness, conformity, boldness, and self-sufficiency. They have significantly lower scores on apprehension and tension. There are no significant differences between the groups on excitability, sensitivity, withdrawal, and self-discipline.

Table 8.3 also breaks down these differences according to sex. The MTS male and female samples both have significantly higher scores than their respective norming groups on intelligence, emotional stability, dominance, and boldness and significantly lower scores on apprehension and tension. In addition, MTS males score significantly higher on warmth and sensitivity, compared to the male norming sample; and MTS females score significantly higher than the female norming group on self-sufficiency.

Table 8.1
High School Norming Group and MTS Student Mean Scores on the Allport-Lindzey SOV

Interests
Mean Scores: Both
H.S. Norming MTS
Group1 Students
(N=12, 616) (N=90)
t
Mean Scores: Male
H.S. Norming MTS
Group1 Students
(N=5,320) (N=48)
t
Mean Scores: Females
H.S. Norming MTS
Group1 Students
(N=7,296) (N=42)
t
t for MTS
Males
vs. MTS
Females
Theoretical
40.2
44.8
-5.9**
43.3
46.6
-3.6**
37.0
42.6
-5.3
2.2**
Economic
40.5
41.5
-1.4
42.8
44.2
-1.4
38.2
38.5
-0.3
-2.9**
Aesthetic
36.7
38.8
-2.7**
35.1
34.2
-0.8**
38.2
44.1
-5.3
-.6.6**
Social
40.2
39.0
1.6
37.1
36.5
0.6
43.3
41.7
1.5
-3.4
Political
41.1
43.6
-3.8**
43.2
46.5
-3.9**
39.1
40.4
-1.5
-3.9**
Religious
40.8
31.8
9.8**
37.9
30.9
5.8**
43.8
32.8
8.7
-0.8

**p<.01 1The norming sample consisted of 10th to 12th graders.

Table 8.2
College Sample and MTS Student Mean Scores on the Allport-Lindzey SOV

Interests
Mean Scores: Both
College
MTS
(N=3,778) (N=90)
t
Mean Scores: Males
College
MTS
(N=2,489) (N=48)
t
Mean Scores: Females
College
MTS
(N=1,289) (N=42)
t
Theoretical
39.8
44.8
-6.4**
43.8
46.6
-2.7**
35.8
42.6
-6.1**
Economic
40.3
41.5
-1.5
42.8
44.2
-1.2
37.9
38.5
-0.5
Aesthetic
38.9
38.8
0.1
35.1
34.2
0.7
42.7
44.1
-1.1
Social
39.6
39.0
0.8
37.1
36.5
0.5
42.0
41.7
0.3
Political
40.4
43.6
-4.7**
42.9
46.5
-3.7**
37.8
40.4
-2.6**
Religious
41.0
31.8
9.2**
38.2
30.9
5.3**
43.8
32.8
7.4**

**p<.01

Table 8.3
Norming Groups and MTS Student Mean Scores on the High School Personality Questionnaire

Characteristics
Mean Scores: Both Sexes
Norming1
Group
(N=7,519)
MTS
Students
(N=106)
t
Mean Scores: Males
Norming1
Group
(N=3,736)
MTS
Students
(N=62)
t
Mean Scores: Females
Norming1
Group
(N=3,584)
MTS
Students
(N=44)
t
t for MTS
Males vs
MTS
Females
Warmth
10.9
11.8
-2.4*
10.0
11.7
-4.0**
11.9
11.8
.1
-.1
Intelligence
6.8
8.5
-9.2**
6.5
8.5
-7.7**
7.1
8.6
-5.6**
-.4
Emotional Stability
8.8
10.5
-5.3**
9.4
11.0
-3.8**
8.1
9.8
-3.3**
1.8
Excitability
10.6
10.1
1.4
10.6
10.1
1.0
10.5
10.0
1.0
.2
Dominance
8.7
10.3
-5.0**
10.3
11.4
-2.9**
7.1
8.9
-4.1**
-4.1**
Cheerfulness
9.7
10.3
-2.0*
10.1
11.0
-1.9
9.2
9.5
.5
1.9
Conformity
11.1
11.9
-2.4*
10.6
11.4
-1.9
11.5
12.5
-1.9
-1.6
Boldness
9.9
11.3
-4.2**
10.6
12.0
-3.3**
9.2
10.4
-2.2*
1.7
Sensitivity
10.4
10.3
.2
7.0
8.0
-2.1*
13.8
13.5
.5
-6.7**
Withdrawal
8.6
9.0
-1.6
9.1
9.2
-.2
8.0
8.9
-1.8
.5
Apprehension
9.4
7.0
7.2**
9.0
6.5
5.9**
9.7
7.7
3.9**
-1.6
Self-sufficiency
8.8
10.0
-3.6**
9.7
10.2
-1.3
7.9
9.6
-3.5**
.8
Self-discipline
10.2
10.7
-1.8
10.3
10.8
-1.3
10.0
10.6
-1.2
.3
Tension
10.4
9.0
4.1**
10.1
8.6
3.3**
10.7
9.5
2.2*
-1.2

1The data for the norming sample are based on adolescents of age 14 1/2.
*p<.05
**p<.01

Comparisons Within the Gifted Group. The data comparing MTS males with MTS females on the HSPQ are also shown in Table 8.3. MTS males score significantly higher than females on dominance, while MTS females are significantly higher than males on sensitivity. There were no other major differences within the gifted group.

School Motivation Analysis Test

Comparison of Gifted and Norming Groups. Table 8.4 shows the SMAT data for the MTS males and females compared to their respective same-sex norming sample of nongifted junior-high-age students. (Data for a norming group of males and females combined was not available in the manual.) MTS males are significantly lower than the male norming sample on traits of mating/sex, fear, narcissism, pugnacity/sadism, protectiveness/pity, self- sentiment, sentiment to school, and sentiment to home. MTS females show the same pattern of results when compared to their norming group.

Comparisons Within the Gifted Group. There are no significant differences between MTS females and males on any of the SMAT scales (refer to Table 8.4).

Table 8.4
Norming Group and MTS Student Mean Scores on the School Motivation Analysis Test

Trait
Mean Scores: Males
Norming1, 2
Group
(N=1,188)
MTS
Students
(N=62)
t
Mean Scores: Females
Norming2
Group
(N=1.241)
MTS
Students
(N=44)
t
t for MTS
Males vs
MTS
Females
Assertiveness
7.2
6.9
1.0
6.7
6.8
-.3
.3
Mating/sex
8.2
5.1
-9.9**
8.8
4.5
13.4**
1.3
Fear
6.2
4.9
4.9**
6.3
5.5
2.9**
-1.5
Narcissism
8.3
5.5
9.0**
9.5
5.8
11.6**
-.7
Pugnacity/sadism
7.8
5.5
7.1**
7.6
4.7
8.5**
2.0
Protectiveness/pity
6.7
5.6
3.9**
7.6
5.8
6.4**
-.3
Self-sentiment
7.6
6.2
4.8**
8.1
5.6
8.0**
1.9
Superego
7.1
6.9
.7
7.1
6.9
.4
-.1
Sentiment to School
8.0
5.9
7.5**
8.1
6.1
6.4**
-.6
Sentiment to home
6.3
5.0
4.8**
6.8
4.9
5.9**
.2

1Only integrated scores are reported.
2 The data for the norming sample is based on students aged 14 1/2.
**p < .05

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Comparison of Gifted and Norming Groups. Several different norming groups were available for comparison on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (see Table 8.5). Two same-age norming groups were used, a junior high school sample and a gifted group of seventh-to-ninth graders; as were two older norming samples, a group of male National Merit Scholarship finalists and a group of college liberal arts students.

When males in the MTS group are compared to the two same-age norming groups, we see the several trends. MTS and junior high school males are more frequently classified as extroverts than introverts, whereas males in the gifted seventh-to-ninth-grade sample are evenly split on this pair. On the sensing-versus-intuitive dimension, MTS and gifted seventh-to-ninth-grade males are predominantly intuitive. This is dramatically reversed for the junior high male sample, which is predominantly sensing. Males were predominantly thinking rather than feeling across all three samples, although this is more pronounced for the MTS students. All three groups suggest that males tend toward perceiving rather than judging, although both the MTS and junior high groups are more evenly split between the two than are the gifted seventh-to-ninth graders.

The MTS female sample is fairly evenly split between extroversion and introversion, while students in both the junior high school and gifted seventh-to-ninth-grade samples are predominantly extroverts. On the sensing-versus-intuitive dimension, both the MTS and gifted seventh-to-ninth-grade females lean heavily toward the intuitive side, while the junior high school females are predominantly sensing. All three groups are predominantly feeling rather than thinking. The final indicator, judging versus perceiving, shows that all three female groups are predominantly perceiving, although this trend is strongest for the MTS and gifted seventh-to-ninth-grade sample.

When the MTS sample is compared to the older students, the results for males show that the older gifted sample of National Merit Scholarship finalists leans toward introversion, while the MTS and college males lean toward extroversion. With regard to the other three dimensions, all three samples are predominantly intuitive, thinking, and perceiving. The MTS males closely resemble the college liberal arts males except on the thinking/feeling dimension, where the MTS Males show a much stronger preference for thinking.

Table 8.5
Frequency of Preference for MTS Students and Comparison Groups on Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator

Preference Pairs
MTS
Males
(N=62)
Females
(N=44)
Jr. High School1
Males
(N=100)
Females
(N=121)
Gifted 7th-9th Graders2
Males
(N=34)
Females
(N=25)
Nat'l Merit3
Males only
(N=100)
College Students4
Males
(N=2,177)
Females
(N=241)
Extroversion
56
48
68
75
50
58
42
54
58
Introversion
44
52
32
25
50
42
58
46
42
Sensing
40
26
72
70
21
12
17
38
30
Intuitive
60
74
28
30
79
88
83
62
70
Thinking
72
45
56
41
56
42
66
54
34
Feeling
28
55
44
59
44
58
34
46
66
Judging
46
31
49
47
38
35
43
43
45
Perceiving
54
69
51
53
62
65
57
57
55

1Pre-college prep 7th and 8th graders from Swarthmore High School, mean IQ=144 (Myers, 1970).
2 High IQ's and rank of 95th percentile or better on all achievement tests taken (Myers, 1970).
3 Random sample drawn from larger sample of 671 (Myers, 1970).
4 College liberal arts majors (Myers, 1970).

The MTS females and the college females share a similarly strong preference for intuition over sensing. MTS females tend toward introversion, while the college sample leans toward extroversion. On the other two scales, both groups tend to be feeling more than thinking and perceiving more than judging, although the former is more pronounced for the college females, while the latter is very strong only for the MTS females. There were no comparisons between the MTS female sample and the National Merit Scholarship sample because the latter sample was males only.

Comparisons Within the Gifted Group. For each of the four pairs of indicators on the Myers-Briggs scale, continuous scores were created (not shown in the table). When females and males in the MTS sample are compared to each other on each of these dimensions, there is a statistically significant difference on only one of the indicators: Females have significantly higher means on the feeling-versus-thinking indicator. (Female mean is 100.9; male is 82.1.) This means that MTS females use feeling significantly more than their male counterparts.

Harter Self-Perception Profile for Children

Comparison of Gifted and Norming Groups. Comparisons between the MTS sample and an eighth-grade norming sample could only be made for males and females separately. Table 8.6 shows these data. The MTS males have significantly higher means for scholastic competence, behavioral conduct, and global self-worth, compared to the norming males. Athletic competence is significantly lower for the MTS males, compared to the norming sample.

The MTS females have significantly higher scores on the same subscales as the males (i.e., scholastic competence, behavioral conduct, and global self-worth), when compared to the norming sample of eighth-grade females. Notably, there are no significant differences for females on social acceptance, athletic competence, or physical appearance.

Comparisons Within the Gifted Group. When males in the MTS sample are compared to females, Table 8.6 shows that there are differences on only two scales; that is, males have significantly higher scores on athletic competence while females have significantly higher scores on behavioral conduct.

Table 8.6
Norming Sample and MTS Student Mean Scores on the Harter Self-Perception Profile for Children

Mean Scores: Males
Norming Group
(N=72)
MTS Students
(N=196)
t
Mean Scores: Females
Norming Group
(N=70)
MTS Students
(N=108)
t
t for
MTS Males
vs. MTS
Females
Scholastic competence
2.8
3.3
-7.0**
2.7
3.2
-5.3**
1.6
Social acceptance
3.1
3.0
.5
3.1
3.0
1.3
-.2
Athletic competence
3.2
2.8
4.0**
2.6
2.5
.3
3.6**
Physical appearance
2.9
2.9
-.1
2.6
2.8
-1.8
.7
Behavioral conduct
2.9
3.1
-3.2**
3.0
3.3
3.6**
-2.2*
Global self-worth
3.0
3.2
-3.0**
2.9
3.2
3.2**
-.1

**p < .05
**p< .01

DISCUSSION

Synthesis of This Study with Prior Research
The Allport-Lindzey Study of Values has been used with several other samples of gifted students. Both Haier and Denham (1976) and Daggett-Pollins (1983) found, as we did, that the theoretical and political interests were those for which academically gifted students had the highest means. In addition, our findings replicate those of Daggett-Pollins, who found that their sample scored the lowest on religious interest.

The results for the High School Personality Questionnaire yielded sonic findings that are confirmed in the literature, notably those of Davis and Connell (1985), Milgram and Milgram (1976), Scholwinski and Reynolds (1985), and Purkey (1966). These results show more positive psychological profiles, better adjustment, and lower levels of anxiety for gifted students. The finding of greater self-sufficiency and boldness for gifted students in this study also has some support in previous work (Milgram & Milgram, 1976; Davis & Connell, 1985). This study found that the MTS students were more conforming than their same-age nongifted counterparts, which is consistent with Ringness (1967) but inconsistent with the work of Lucito (1964).

Our data on the Myers-Briggs scale show no differences in the level of extroversion between gifted and nongifted mates, which is consistent with the results of Wrenn, Ferguson, and Kennedy (1962). However, MTS females tended to be more introverted compared to nongifted groups, which is inconsistent with Wrenn et al. (1962). The findings of this study on the Harter scale show high levels of global self-worth and a generally positive self-concept for MTS students, which is consistent with previous research (Ketcham & Snyder, 1977; Lehman & Erdwins, 1981; Maddox et al., 1982; Milgram & Milgram, 1976).

Regarding sex differences, our results for males versus females on the SOV are consistent with the findings of Bachtold (1969). We also found significant sex differences on two subscales of the HSPQ: Females had higher sensitivity scores and males had higher dominance scores. These results are consistent with previous work by Karnes et al. (1984) that found higher scores for females on sensitivity as well as excitability, but they are at variance with the work of Killian (1983), who found no sex differences on the HSPQ.

The sex difference obtained on the thinking/feeling dimension of the Myers-Briggs scale confirms the findings of McGinn (1976) for verbally talented students participating in a summer talent search program. In addition, the sex differences obtained in this study on the Harter subscale of behavioral conduct (higher scores for females) are consistent with the findings of Hultgren and Marquardt (1986), although these authors did not test for statistically significant differences.

Few studies that we reviewed compared gifted students to older students on the dimensions we studied. Our results for the SOV indicate that gifted males and females differentiate themselves from college-age students on the same values and to a similar degree as they differentiate themselves from nongifted students of the same age.

For the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the MTS females evidenced early psychological maturity only on the sensing/intuitive dimension. The MTS males evidenced psychological maturity on the introversion/extroversion, sensing/intuitive, and judging/perceiving dimensions.

Profiles of Gifted Adolescents
Our results show that gifted males take a more cognitive approach to life, being more critical, rational, and intellectual than their nongifted male agemates. They have a greater desire for the direct expression of personal power and influence, which may result in their seeking leadership positions. They also tend to be less religious and mystical in their approach to life, compared to nongifted males. Gifted males are mentally and emotionally healthy and not troubled by undue levels of apprehension and tension.

The gifted adolescent male is more sensitive than the nongifted adolescent male, as well as more dominant and bold. The gifted male, relative to the norming-group male, behaviorally expresses significantly lower levels of need for personal security, to be competitive with and to defeat others, to be paternalistic, to satisfy egocentric sensual needs, and to be interested in school or home. He is more likely to rely on intuition rather than his live senses, and on thinking rather than feeling in dealing with the external environment. In relation to his sense of self, the gifted male is more likely than a nongifted male to feel that he is competent in the area of academics, behaves well, and possesses an overall positive feeling of self-worth. Gifted males, however, do not perceive themselves to be as competent athletically as do nongifted males.

The gifted female, like her male counterpart, takes a more cognitive, empirical, and rational approach to life, relative to nongifted females. She also places a high value on aesthetics, with form and harmony and artistic episodes being important to her. Her desire for the direct expression of personal power and influence tends to be higher, too, compared to the nongifted female. She places less value on religion and mysticism than her nongifted counterpart, and she has a higher mental capacity and ability to handle abstract problems. The gifted female adolescent tends to be emotionally stable and free of debilitating anxiety and fear. There is also a greater tendency for dominance, assertiveness, aggressiveness, stubbornness, and bossy behavior on the part of the gifted female, compared to her nongifted counterpart.

The gifted female appears to be more venturesome and uninhibited while feeling more free from guilt and more self-satisfied than the nongifted girl. She is more self-sufficient and resourceful than her nongifted agemate, prefering to make her own decisions.

The gifted female expresses lower levels of need, relative to the nongifted female, in the areas of mating, personal security (fear), self-centered sensual satisfaction, competition with and defeat of others, maternalistic tendencies, and involvement and connectedness to school and home.

The gifted female is more likely to be an introvert than her nongifted agemates and is also much more likely to rely on intuition than on her five senses as a means of making decisions. She is decidedly internally oriented, giving weight to her own internal perceptions, stirrings, and feelings. Her perceptions of self-worth, conduct, and scholastic competence are positive and higher than the nongifted female.

Gifted males and gifted females differentiate themselves in several ways. The gifted male places more value on a cognitive approach to life and exhibits a greater desire for personal power than the gifted female. Form and harmony and social relations are of greater value to the gifted female, compared to the gifted male. Gifted males are more dominant, while gifted females are more sensitive. Gifted males give much less weight to their feelings in making judgments than do gifted females. The gifted male has a greater sense of athletic competence than the gifted female, although his perception of conduct is not as positive as hers.

SUMMARY

In general, gifted junior-high-age girls resembled gifted junior-high-age boys in values, personality characteristics, expressed needs, preferences for ways of perceiving and judging, and perceptions of competence and self- worth. Many more differences were obtained between the MTS students and same-age nongifted students. Gifted girls, however, are not just like gifted boys; each has a unique set of characteristics, which has implications for the choices gifted males and females make for their future, especially in regard to selecting careers, jobs, and roles. Gifted males need to be directed toward careers that respond to their value for the analytical and intellectual and their leadership characteristics. Gifted females need to be encouraged toward careers that give weight to both their intellectual values as well as their aesthetic values. Females also have leadership characteristics but, due to their internal and intrapsychic focus, may experience conflicts related to career situations that demand and emphasize relationships with people and external events. Gifted females need assistance in integrating those aspects of their personalities to maximize their leadership potential.


References

Allport, G. W., Vernon, P. E., & Lindzey, G. (1970). Manual for the study of values: A scale for measuring the dominant interest in personality. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.

Bachtold, L. M. (1969). Personality differences among high ability underachievers. The Journal of Educational Research, 63(1), 16-68.

Bonsall, M. R., & Stefflre, B. (1955). The temperament of gifted children. California Journal of Educational Research, 6(4), 162-165.

Briggs-Myers, I. (1962). The Myers-Briggs type indicator. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.

Cattell, R. B., Cattell, M. D., & Johns, E. (1984). Manual and Norms for the High School Personality Questionnaire. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.

Dagget-Pollins, L. (1983). The effects of acceleration on the social and emotional development of gifted students. In C. P. Benbow & J. C. Stanley (Eds.), Academic precocity: Aspects of its development (pp. 160-178). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Davids, A. (1966). Psychological characteristics of high school male and female potential scientists in comparison with academic underachievers. Psychology in the Schools, 3, 79-87.

Davis, H. B., & Connell, J. P. (1985). The effect of aptitude and achievement status on the self-system. Gifted Child Quarterly, 29(3), 131-135.

Fox, L. H. (1976). Sex differences in mathematical precocity: Bridging the gap. In D. P. Keating (Ed.), Intellectual talent research and development (pp. 183-214). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Haier, R. J., & Denham, S. A. (1976). A summary profile of the nonintellectual correlates of mathematical precocity in boys and girls. In D. P. Keating (Ed.), Intellectual talent research and development (pp. 225-241). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Harter, S. (1985). Manual for the Self-Perception Prop for Children. Denver, CO: University of Denver.

Hultgren, H., & Marquandt, M. (1986, April). A self-perception profile of Rocky Mountain Talent Search Summer Institute participants. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, Chicago.

Karnes, F. A., Chauvin, J. C., & Trent, T. J. (1984). Leadership profiles as determined by the HSPQ of students identified as intellectually gifted. Roeper Review, 7(1), 46-48.

Kennedy, W. A. (1962). MMPI profiles of gifted adolescents. Journal of Clinical psychology, 18, 148-149.

Ketcham, R., & Snyder, R. T. (1977). Self-attitudes of the intellectually and socially advantaged student: Normative study of the Piers-Harris children's self-concept scale. Psychological Reports, 40, 111-116.

Killian, J. (1983). Personality characteristics of intellectually gifted secondary students. Roeper Review, 6(1) 39-42.

Krug, S. E., Sweeney, A. B., & Cattell, R. B. (1976). Handbook for the School Motivation Analysis Test (SMAT). Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.

Lehman, E. B., & Erdwins, C. J. (1981). The social and emotional adjustment of young, intellectually gifted children. Gifted Child Quarterly, 25(3), 134-137.

Lessinger, L. M., & Martinson, R. A. (1961, March). The use of the California Psychological Inventory with gifted pupils. Personnel and Guidance Journal, 572- 575.

Lucito, L. J. (1964, September). Independence-conformity behavior as a function of intellect: Bright and dull children. Exceptional Children, 31, 5-13.

McGinn, P. V. (1976). Verbally gifted youth: Selection and description. In D. P. Keating, (Ed.), Intellectual talent: Research and development. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Maddux, C. D., Scheiber, L. M., & Bass, J. E. (1982). Self-concept and social distance in gifted children. Gifted Child Quarterly, 26(2), 77-81.

Milgram, R. M., & Milgram, N. A. (1976). Personality characteristics of gifted Israeli children. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 129, 185-194.

Myers, I. B. (1970). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press.

Purkey, W. W. (1966). Measured and professed personality characteristics of gifted high school students and an analysis of their congruence. The Journal of Educational Research, 60(3), 99-103.

Ringness, T. A. (1967). Identification patterns, motivation, and school achievement of bright junior high school boys. Journal of Educational Psychology, 59(2), 93- 102.

Ritchie, A. C., Bernard, J. M., & Shemer, B. E. (1982). A comparison of academically talented children and academically average children on interpersonal sensitivity. Gifted Child Quarterly, 26(3), 105-109.

Scholwinski, E., & Reynolds, C. R. (1985). Dimensions of anxiety among high IQ children. Gifted Child Quarterly, 29(3), 125-130.

Tomlinson-Keasey, C., & Smith-Winberry, C. (1983). Educational strategies and personality outcomes of gifted and nongifted college students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 27(1), 35-41.

Wrenn, C. G., Ferguson, L. W, & Kennedy, J. L. (1962). Intelligence level and personality. Journal of Social Psychology, 7, 301-308.


The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute's Database does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational purposes only and is solely the opinion of and the responsibility of the author. Although reasonable effort is made to present accurate information, the Davidson Institute makes no guarantees of any kind, including as to accuracy or completeness. Use of such information is at the sole risk of the reader.

Close Window