Advertisement

Self-Actualization and Morality of the Gifted: Environmental, Familial, and Personal Factors

  • Deborah Ruf
Chapter

Abstract

How family, school, and social background contribute to the self-identity and subsequent self-concept and self-esteem of highly gifted individuals may be related to whether or not they eventually self-actualize. The author examined factors that possibly relate to the development of individuals who are self-actualized; and which, if any of these factors, are predictors of highly principled moral reasoning development. Forty-one case studies were analyzed using characteristics of emotional and moral reasoning stages outlined by Erikson, Maslow, Dabrowski, Kohlberg, and Rest. Findings indicate that self-actualization that follows inner transformation is highly correlated with advanced levels of moral reasoning. Such people are not necessarily happier or more successful in careers than subjects who attain lower emotional and moral reasoning growth. There was a significant correlation between scores on Rest's Defining Issues Test (DIT) and Dabrowski's and Kohlberg's stages of development. New terms for the study, Searcher and Nonsearcher, appeared to correlate with developmental levels, with Searchers being more likely to eventually self-actualize. Evidence exists that people can become Searchers. Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse in childhood was highly related to both lower and higher DIT scores and Dabrowski levels among highly gifted adults. Those who overcame persistent bitterness over abuse were more likely to become Searchers and eventually self-actualize. Those who do not experience inner transformation but are “good people” and career self-actualizers are generally in the Conventional (Kohlberg) or Stereotypical (Dabrowski) levels of development. Finally, subjects' perceptions that someone significant to them cared about them or respected them emerged as a significant positive factor in those who eventually self-actualized.

Keywords

Moral Reasoning Moral Development Emotional Development Career Success Define Issue Test 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Reference

  1. Boehm, L. (1962). The development of conscience: A comparison of American children of different mental and socioeconomic levels. Child Development, 33, 575–590.Google Scholar
  2. Colby, A., and Kohlberg, L. (1987). The Measurement of Moral Judgment: Vol. I, Theoretical Foundations and Research Validation. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Erikson, E. (1968). Identity, Youth, and Crisis. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  4. Falk, R. F., and Miller, N. B. (1998). The reflexive self: A sociological perspective. Roeper Review, 20(3), 150–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Flexner, S. B. (Ed.). (1987). The Random House dictionary of the English language (2nd ed.). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  7. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a Different Voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Greenspon, T. (1998). The gifted self: Its role in development and emotional health. Roeper Review, 20(3), 162–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gross, M. U. M. (1993). Exceptionally Gifted Children. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hall, E. G., and Hansen, J. B. (1997). Self-actualizing men and women: A comparison study. Roeper Review, 20(1), 22–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Janos, P. M., Robinson, N. M., and Lunneborg, C. E. (1989). Markedly early entrance to college: A multi-year comparative study of academic performance and psychological adjustment. Journal of Higher Education, 60, 496–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Josselson, R. (1991). Finding Herself: Pathways to Identity Development in Women. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  13. Kohlberg, L. (1984). The Psychology of Moral Development (Vol. 2). San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  14. Lefton, L. A. (1994). Psychology (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Allen & Bacon.Google Scholar
  15. Levinson, D. J. (1978). The Seasons of a Man's Life. New York: Ballentine Books.Google Scholar
  16. Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and Personality (2nd ed.). New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  17. McGeorge, C. (1975). The susceptibility to faking of the defining issues test of moral development. Developmental Psychology, 44, 116–122.Google Scholar
  18. Narvaez, D. (1993). High achieving students and moral judgment. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 16(3), 268–279.Google Scholar
  19. Nelson, K. C. (1989). Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration. Advanced Development: A Journal on Adult Giftedness, 1, 1–14.Google Scholar
  20. Peck, R. F., and Havighurst, R. J. (1960). The Psychology of Character Development. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  21. Piechowski, M. M. (1975). A theoretical and empirical approach to the study of development. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 92, 231–297.Google Scholar
  22. Piechowski, M. M. (1986). Defining Issues Test, Manual. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Ethical Development, University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  23. Piechowski, M. M. (1989). Developmental potential and the growth of self. In J. H. Borland (Series Ed.) and J. L. VanTassel-Baska and P. Olszewski-Kubilius (Vol. Eds.), Patterns of Influence on Gifted Learners: The Home, the Self, and the School (pp. 87–101). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  24. Piechowski, M. M., and Silverman, L. K. (1993, July). Dabrowski's Levels of Emotional Development. Paper presented at the Lake Geneva Dabrowski Conference, Geneva, WI.Google Scholar
  25. Piechowski, M. M., and Narvaez, D.(Eds.) (1994) Moral Development in the Professions. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  26. Rest, J. R. (1979). Development in Judging Moral Issues. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  27. Rest, J. R., Turiel, E., and Kohlberg, L. (1969). Level of moral judgment as determinant of preference and comprehension made by others. Journal of Personality, 37, 225–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ruf, D. L. (1998). Environmental, Familial, and Personal Factors That Affect the Self-Actualization of Highly Gifted Adults: Case studies. Unpublished dissertation: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  29. Scheidel, D., and Marcia, J. (1985). Ego integrity, intimacy, sex role orientation, and gender. Developmental Psychology, 21, 149–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sheehy, G. (1974). Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life. New York: E. P. Dutton.Google Scholar
  31. Silverman, L. K. (Ed.) (1989). Advanced development: A journal on adult giftedness, 1(1), 41–56. Google Scholar
  32. Silverman, L. K. (Ed.) (1993). Counseling the Gifted & Talented. Denver, CO: Love.Google Scholar
  33. Strauss, W., and Howe, N. (1991). Generations: The History of America's Future. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  34. Turner, J.S., and Helms, D. (1986). Contemporary Adulthood (4th ed.). Chicago, IL: Harcourt College Publishers.Google Scholar
  35. Walker, L., deVries, B., and Bichard, S. L. (1984). The hierarchical nature of stages of moral development. Developmental Psychology, 20, 960–966.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Woolfolk, A. E. (1995). Educational Psychology (6th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Educational OptionsGolden ValleyUSA

Personalised recommendations