More vocab

In spite of the volumes of research that exist on characteristics of the gifted, they do not appear in any kind of standard form, any more than any other segment of the human race does.

Gifted Grownups
Marylou Kay Streznewski

Presuming, of course, that breeds and races and other statistical categories and descriptive adjectives cannot possibly be applied to humans in the same way that they can be applied to the rest of the animal kingdom, because Holocaust. (Which is not, itself, to further suggest that humans are anything more than animals, because Reason and Science.)

Truly, they are as different as snowflakes. Based on my observations in the classroom and the general population, I concluded some years ago that the gifted can be grouped into three rough
categories. It was a surprise to come upon the same categories in a documented study by psychologist Elizabeth Drews. I called them, informally, strivers, superstars, and independents. Remembering these categories can help to explain some of the confusion that surrounds impressions of the gifted. It can also prevent some of the snap judgments that are made at the mere mention of the word “gifted”…


In the first category are what have been called the “high-testing teacher-pleasers.” When I was in college, they were known as “grinds.” They work tremendously hard at school or their job. At the behest of corporate, parental, or academic authority, they will meet almost superhuman requirements. Their peers in school or the workplace do not have much influence on them. They have high test scores most of the time; high grades, and high accomplishments. They like structure and direction. One will rarely find creative contributions to science and art here, but certainly the endless taking of pains to do things right. They are often those adults who consider their jobs as their lives.

In other words, strivers are conscientious. The two major components of conscientious folks are high energy and dedication. Contrary to the description, an artist must be conscientious to reach the acme of their chosen skill. But strivers rarely have the associative horizon necessary for undirected creativity, preferring to please their insatiable handlers (authority figures and their ids’ incessant need to achieve, predominantly). If they produce any “art” it will be mere imitation for pedestrian purposes such as college applications and biographical fodder.



Another broad group encompasses what could be called superstars. They are the one-third who make the rest of us look bad-people expect all gifted people to be like this. They live up to the image created by the famous Terman studies of people who are taller, healthier, handsomer, wealthier, happier, and nicer than most people-because they are! They work hard, but play hard too. Concern for social relationships makes them popular with classmates, coworkers, employees; they often take their values from the concerns of the peer realm. Their high marks and high accomplishments seem to meld into the whole picture of their overall zest for life. They are often the scholarship athletes who seem to have it all. Whatever field they enter, they can be found in the same place: at or near the top.

This would be your traditional high-IQ crowd, which works smarter rather than harder (Cal Newport and his kith). Please note that the description of social and moral values falls nicely in line with my hypothesis that the frontal lobe is a social navigation and conformity machine.



So far, we have two groups of people who are a delight to those around them, either because they are fun or because they always have the work finished. What happened to the obnoxious, irritating, know-everything types? They are next, but take a second look before locking them into a negative stereotype. They are often the least understood but the most accomplished.

Or would be if they didn’t have so much goddamned trouble sticking to a schedule.

In keeping with what I said above, strivers are largely uncreative because associative horizon and conscientiousness are traits that do not often mix well. On the other hand, a person with a high associative horizon might be able to simulate conscientiousness through some sort of psychological fixation that turns out to be productive. Usually, we find this takes the form of pain and trauma, which are somehow alleviated by a form of creativity and expression. In turn, this palliative effect creates a sort of addiction to creativity similar to an addiction to booze or drugs.

Hence, most “creative” types we see tend to be tortured, high AH types.

This third category Elizabeth Drews calls the “creative intellectuals.” To coworkers, fellow students, parents, bosses, and teachers-in fact, to anyone who represents authority-they are more likely to be termed a pain in the neck.

Sounds familiar :-).

They work hard, often brilliantly, at what interests them. They may ignore the rest, regardless of the consequences. their locus of control comes from deep in their inner value system. they are seldom popular, or leaders, and usually they don’t want to be. In a classroom they often ask, as Drews says, “below the surface, or depending on how they feel about the teacher, below the belt questions.” They have a zany sense of humor.

They tend not to fit into the neat little slots of our corporate society; consequently, their careers may have a very irregular development indeed. but from their ranks come scientists rather than engineers, inventors rather than manufacturers, artists rather than competent performers. they may drive you absolutely crazy if you fail to understand their way of relating to the world. Having one in the family, as either child or spouse, will guarantee no one will be bored!

That’s a pretty charitable way to put it.

Anyway, these high AH folks are heavily correlated (though not perfectly, as high conscientiousness can produce dysfunctional neuroticism) with your “outsider” types as expressed in this table:




< 97.8


97.8 – 117.1


117.1 – 136.4


136.4 – 155.7


155.7 – 175


> 175


Because there are many, many more 135 IQ individuals in the population (1 per 100, or about 70 million across the globe) than 175 IQ individuals, (1 per 3.5 million, or one in each major city), the estimate of “one in three” comes out about right. But we also see a suggestive bimodal split in the upper end of the distribution.


About Aeoli Pera

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3 Responses to More vocab

  1. Pingback: Gifted Grownups, Streznewski | Aeoli Pera

  2. Pingback: Spatial ability and planoccipitalism | Aeoli Pera

  3. mobiuswolf says:

    “That’s a pretty charitable way to put it.”
    I thought it was very nice. ;)

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