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Cultural Conceptions of Giftedness

Gifts and talents can exist only in a cultural context—a frame of reference made up of patterns of expectations, behavior, values, and meanings shared by members of a community. Those historical and social forces shape both the dynamics of individual psychology and the way individuals may be perceived as gifted. Cultural outlook also influences the researcher in the design of investigations, the questions asked, and the way findings are interpreted.

Western versus Non-Western Views of Giftedness

In the United States, the definition of giftedness still most widely used was set out in the 1972 Marland Report in a checklist that includes “valued by society,” “rarity,” and “yield a product,” thus requiring demonstrated competence. This Western view stresses individual and competitive achievement rather than collaboration with others.

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