Characteristics of the Gifted

I received my Mensa Research Journal in the mail yesterday, and found some of the material so interesting that I decided to suspend my writing about the psyche for a day and blog about intelligence, instead.

This issue is about high intelligence (giftedness) in the workplace. I found one article, “Gifted Adults in Work,” by Noks Nauta and Frans Corten, especially interesting. The abstract begins, “gifted adults ( people with a very high intelligence; 2% of the population) sometimes are not able to function adequately at work” (49). Ironic, isn’t it, that the most intelligent among us may function inadequately at work, in school, or in other settings? Why is that?

Gifted people share certain characteristics that can make adapting difficult when adapting means thinking, acting, or feeling within normal limits. Several articles mentioned that people with very high IQs are often mis-diagnosed as having ADHD or autism!

Some of the shared characteristics of the gifted are:

  • Speed of thinking. Gifted individuals think more quickly than others. They make many mental switches, associate rapidly, and give the impression that they jump from one subject to the next.
  • High sensitivity.People with high intelligence are also more sensitive in various areas, such as psychomotoric, sensorial, intellectual, imaginative, and emotional. They are sometimes confused with people who have ADHD.
  • Introversion.The inner world of the gifted is very well-developed. They are quickly and easily hurt, and so tend to keep others at a distance. Some avoid parties and other social gatherings because the topics of conversation bore them or because they have been rejected for being “different” in the past. People with high IQs also have trouble finding others who are like them, which can lead them to become even more isolated.
  • Emotional development.Many gifted individuals feel emotions strongly; but because their thinking ability is dominant and provides safety, their emotional development may lag behind. They may have trouble linking feelings and reason. This may be reinforced when the child’s giftedness is not recognized from an early age, and when it is mistaken for autism or other developmental problems.
  • Creativity. Gifted people are more global by nature and have strong capacities for imagination. People of average intelligence can’t follow the train of thought of the gifted. Gifted individuals can also identify patterns quickly and thus predict trends. They may draw conclusions intuitively or make what appear to be quick or premature judgments. Their creativity is often frustrated by the regular education system or the typical work place.
  • Independence. Gifted people make judgments and form opinions autonomously. They are non-conformist and therefore display “inappropriate behavior” in the classroom or work place. They often have an aversion to non-democratic authority.
  • Perfectionism. Perfectionism is often accompanied by having too high expectations of others, but also with shame, guilt feelings, and feelings of inferiority through not being able to meet their own high expectations.
  • Learning style. Many gifted people have exploratory learning styles. They look for what isn’t there, and are often bored by rote learning methods. As a result, they may never develop learning strategies.
  • Fear of failure and under-performing.If their intelligence is not stimulated, children often develop bad working habits. They sometimes think that they are stupid, become afraid of failure, and start under-performing. Their motivation to learn decreases.

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