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Giftedness

The term giftedness was originally defined by Lewis Terman as superb cognitive abilities, characterizing those in the top 1% of intellectual ability on standardized intelligence tests. Accordingly, in common language, gifted is often interchangeable with the term genius. Over the years, others have extended the concept of giftedness to any valuable area of human performance, such as athletic ability, artistic ability, and leadership. This entry uses Terman’s narrow definition of giftedness as outstanding cognitive abilities. The entry describes characteristics of gifted individuals, considers the etiology of giftedness and the ramifications of giftedness across the lifespan, and discusses ways of schooling gifted children.

Characterizing Gifted Individuals

First signs of giftedness are usually seen in childhood. Gifted children are precocious. They acquire certain cognitive skills and interests at an ...

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