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Characteristics of Gifted Children

— Duke University Talent Identification Program
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

Gifted individuals may exhibit some of the following characteristics. Keep in mind that gifted individuals are not a homogenous group, and therefore, may exhibit these characteristics in varying degrees and intensities. It is not expected that a gifted child will exhibit all of the traits listed nor are the presence of any of these characteristics proof that a child is gifted.

General Intellectual Ability

  • Have varied interests and exhibit curiosity; strong curiosity; asks questions about everything and anything; inquisitive (Clark, 2002; Silverman, 1997-2004, Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ; Bloom, 1982; Terman & Oden, 1951).
  • Demonstrate a high level of language development and verbal ability; has extensive vocabulary; early or avid reader (Clark, 2002; Silverman, 1997-2004; Terman & Oden, 1947; Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ; Gross, 1993 ).
  • Have an unusual capacity for processing information ( Clark, 2002).
  • Ability to think and process information quickly; learns rapidly (Clark, 2002; Silverman, 1997-2004).
  • Comprehensively synthesizes problems; reasons well (Clark, 2002; Silverman, 1997-2004; Sternberg, 1986 ).
  • Heightened capacity to recognize diverse relationships and integrate ideas across disciplines; r easons things out, comprehends meanings, and makes logical associations. ( Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ).
  • Early use of differential patterns in thought processing ( Clark, 2002).
  • Is a keen observer; alert (Silverman 1997-2004, Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ; Rogers, 1986; Witty, 1958 ).

Specific Academic Ability

  • Capable of absorbing an extraordinary quantity of information with unusual retentiveness; has an excellent memory (Clark, 2002; Silverman, 1997-2004).
  • Able to comprehend subject matter at advanced levels ( Clark, 2002).
  • Has facility with numbers (Silverman 1997-2004; Gottfried, Gottfried, Bathurst, & Guerin, 1994; Hildreth, 1966; Hollingworth, 1931; Robinson, Roedell, & Jackson, 1979; Rogers, 1986 )
  • Has quick mastery and recall of factual information; rapid learning ability (Bloom, 1982; Hollingworth, 1942; Terman & Oden, 1947 ; Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ).
  • Unusual intensity; persistent and goal directed; p erseverant in their interests (Clark, 2002; Silverman, 1997-2004; Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ; Rogers, 1986; Witty, 1958).
  • Has a long attention span; perseverant when interested (Feldhusen, 1986; Rogers, 1986; Witty, 1958).  

Creative Ability

  • Flexible thought processes in solving problems ( Clark, 2002).
  • Early ability to delay closure ( Clark, 2002).
  • Can generate original ideas and solutions; is highly creative; offers unusual, unique, or clever answers; originality in written, oral, or artistic expression; independent thinker (Clark, 2002; Silverman, 1997-2004; Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ; Lovecky, 1993; Rogers, 1986 ).
  • Has a vivid imagination; fantasizes (Silverman 1997-2004; J. Gallagher, 1966; S. Gallagher, 1985; Piechowski & Colangelo, 1984; Piechowski, Silverman, & Falk, 1985; Terman & Oden, 1959; Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ).
  • Has a keen sense of humor; comical (Silverman, 1997-2004; Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ; Hollingworth, 1926; Terman, 1925; Kanevsky, Maker, Nielsen, & Rogers, 1994 ).
  • Is a risk-taker; adventurous and speculative ( Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ).
  • Involvement with the metaneeds of society (beauty, justice, truth); is sensitive to beauty (Clark, 2002; Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002 ).
  • Nonconforming; individualistic ( Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, 2002).
  • Uses previously learned things in new contexts (Smutney, 1998).
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