How Do Gifted Adolescents See Themselves?

Grant H Brenner
9 min readJan 30, 2023

New research finds four faces of giftedness.

Key points

  • New research suggests there are four general profiles of gifted adolescents: humanitarians, politicians, regulators and stabilizers.
  • These groups have different personality traits, emotions, and relationships.
  • It’s important that gifted people, who become followers and leaders, are afforded opportunities to become constructive members of society.

Giftedness, with cousin “neurodivergence”, are on our collective minds with increasing immediacy. Gifted folk tend toward open-mindedness. Yet being very open can be challenging when others have difficulty seeing the value of certain expressed ideas. The need to conform collides with the need to be authentic, becoming stultifying. What is the gifted person’s place in society as they stretch toward adulthood?

Gifted individuals experience bias, at times stigmatized for their gifts. They are more likely to be bullied, increasing risk of emotional and relationship problems, which may reach clinical significance. Early-life identity problems dampen sense of coherence[1]-further increasing the risk of mental illness. Understanding the subjective, individual experiences of gifted individuals is a missing puzzle piece.

How Do Gifted Adolescents See Themselves?

Albright and Montgomery (2023), reporting in the journal Roeper Review, asked adolescents to self-assess how they see themselves, focusing on emotional intelligence and developmental factors. Using “Q methodology” (which involves rating various factors on a pyramid-shaped matrix to derive underlying clusters) they recruited 28 students from the ages of 11 to 15.

They were presented with 41 statements (footnote 2, the “Q set”) on emotional intelligence and psychological development derived from Mayer et al.’s theory of emotional intelligence and Dąbrowski’s theory of positive disintegration (TPD). Mayer’s theory is what one might expect (self-awareness, empathy, degree of introversion, etc.), while TPD deserves a brief overview (footnote 3).

Four Views of the Gifted Adolescent’s Emotional Self

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Grant H Brenner

Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Disaster Responder, Advocate, Photographer