History of Giftedness: Perspectives from the Past Presage Modern Scholarship

  • Ann Robinson
  • Pamela R. Clinkenbeard

Across centuries and cultures, exceptional performances and performers have intrigued scholars, practitioners, and the general public. Whatever the domain, highlevel achievements interest people, sometimes as a model to emulate, sometimes as an area of inquiry, sometimes as a curiosity.

Theoretically, the modern study of giftedness is related to the psychology of individual differences. In the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, the psychological constructs of intelligence, creativity, and motivation provided the foundation for understanding giftedness. There are, however, earlier conceptions of extraordinary people and performances that have influenced our perspectives on giftedness as well. This chapter reviews briefly the historical interest in giftedness to the nineteenth century, shares four biographical summaries that illustrate key issues in the twentieth-century history of gifted education, offers a review of cognitive and affective variables which have historically been used to study giftedness, and concludes with attention to issues of particular interest to psychologists and mental health professionals.


Gifted Student Insight Problem Gifted Child Gifted Education Moral Trait 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann Robinson
    • 1
  • Pamela R. Clinkenbeard
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Arkansas at Little RockUSA
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin-WhitewaterUSA

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