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Eccentricity and Temperament

From the clichéd absent-minded genius who misplaces his glasses to the obsessive, reclusive artist, giftedness and eccentricity have been linked in common perception. The more talented the individual, the more unconventional and idiosyncratic his or her temperament is thought to be. This entry explores the complex relationship between temperament, eccentricity, and giftedness reviews current research.


Temperament refers to basic dimensions of personality rooted in biology, rather than culture or upbringing. Though shaped by experience and maturation, temperament is considered relatively stable throughout an individual's development and across situational contexts.

Temperament has been extensively studied for more than 50 years. The best-known and most influential study was the New York Longitudinal Study of Child Temperament conducted by psychologists Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas. Chess and Thomas collected ...

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