Winners, 2015-2016

Given internationally for outstanding research on intelligence, intellectual giftedness and related fields. Papers must be published in a peer-reviewed journal or presented at a peer-reviewed conference. Senior investigators received their degrees more than five years ago and have since been active in their fields. Junior investigators include graduate students, researchers who have earned their degrees within the past five years and those who have previously earned degrees in other fields and entered their present field within the past five years.


Senior Investigators

David Lubinski, Vanderbilt University, “Life Paths and Accomplishments of Mathematically Precocious Males and Females Four Decades Later” (coauthors Camilla P. Benbow and Harrison J. Kell)

Abstract: Two cohorts of intellectually talented 13-year-olds were identified in the 1970s (1972-1974 and 1976-1978) as being in the top 1 percent of mathematical reasoning ability (1,037 males, 613 females). About four decades later, data on their careers, accomplishments, psychological well-being, families and life preferences and priorities were collected. Their accomplishments far exceeded base-rate expectations: Across the two cohorts, 4.1 percent had earned tenure at a major research university, 2.3 percent were top executives at “name brand” or Fortune 500 companies, and 2.4 percent were attorneys at major firms or organizations; participants had published 85 books and 7,572 refereed articles, secured 681 patents, and amassed $358 million in grants. For both males and females, mathematical precocity early in life predicts later creative contributions and leadership in critical occupational roles. On average, males had incomes much greater than their spouses’, whereas females had incomes slightly lower than their spouses’. Salient sex differences that paralleled the differential career outcomes of the male and female participants were found in lifestyle preferences and priorities and in time allocation.

Article link (paywall): Psychological Science

John H. Kranzler, University of Florida, “Are the General Factors From Different Child and Adolescent Intelligence Tests the Same? Results From a Five-Sample, Six-Test Analysis” (coauthors Randy G. Floyd, Matthew R. Reynolds and Ryan L. Farmer)

Abstract: Psychometric g is the largest, most general, and most predictive factor underlying individual differences across cognitive tasks included in intelligence tests. Given that the overall score from intelligence tests is interpreted as an index of psychometric g, we examined the correlations between general factors extracted from individually administered intelligence tests using data from five samples of children and adolescents (n = 83 to n = 200) who completed at least two of six intelligence tests. We found strong correlations between the general factors indicating that these intelligence tests measure the same construct, psychometric g. A total of three general-factor correlations exceeded .95, but two other correlations were somewhat lower (.89 and .92). In addition, specific ability factors correlated highly across tests in most (but not all) cases. School psychologists and other professionals should know that psychometric g and several specific abilities are measured in remarkably similar ways across a wide array of intelligence tests.

Article link (paywall): School Psychology Review

Jonathan Wai, Duke University, “Investigating America's Elite: Cognitive Ability, Education and Sex Differences”

Abstract: Are the American elite drawn from the cognitive elite? To address this, five groups of America's elite (total N = 2,254) were examined: Fortune 500 CEOs, federal judges, billionaires, Senators, and members of the House of Representatives. Within each of these groups, nearly all had attended college with the majority having attended either a highly selective undergraduate institution or graduate school of some kind. High average test scores required for admission to these institutions indicated those who rise to or are selected for these positions are highly filtered for ability. Ability and education level differences were found across various sectors in which the billionaires earned their wealth (e.g., technology vs. fashion and retail); even within billionaires and CEOs wealth was found to be connected to ability and education. Within the Senate and House, Democrats had a higher level of ability and education than Republicans. Females were underrepresented among all groups, but to a lesser degree among federal judges and Democrats and to a larger degree among Republicans and CEOs. America's elite are largely drawn from the intellectually gifted, with many in the top 1 percent of ability.

Article link (open access): Intelligence

Junior Investigators

Drew H. Bailey, University of California, “State and Trait Effects on Individual Differences in Children's Mathematical Development,” (coauthors Tyler W. Watts, Andrew K. Littlefield and David C. Geary)

Abstract: Substantial longitudinal relations between children’s early mathematics achievement and their much later mathematics achievement are firmly established. These findings are seemingly at odds with studies showing that early educational interventions have diminishing effects on children’s mathematics achievement across time. We hypothesized that individual differences in children’s later mathematical knowledge are more an indicator of stable, underlying characteristics related to mathematics learning throughout development than of direct effects of early mathematical competency on later mathematical competency. We tested this hypothesis in two longitudinal data sets, by simultaneously modeling effects of latent traits (stable characteristics that influence learning across time) and states (e.g., prior knowledge) on children’s mathematics achievement over time. Latent trait effects on children’s mathematical development were substantially larger than state effects. Approximately 60 percent of the variance in trait mathematics achievement was accounted for by commonly used control variables, such as working memory, but residual trait effects remained larger than state effects. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Article link (paywall): Psychological Science

Enyi Jen, Purdue University, “Retrospective Perceptions of Graduates of a Self-Contained Program in Taiwan for High School Students Talented in STEM,” (coauthor Sidney M. Moon)

Abstract: This retrospective qualitative study was designed to investigate perceptions of the learning experiences of STEM-talented male students who were in a self-contained, single-gender gifted program in a selective high school in Taiwan. Twenty-four graduates of the high school’s gifted program completed a confidential survey and participated in one-on-one interviews. The participants identified the most valuable learning experience as the Independent Study (IS) course; they reported that the IS course influenced their choice of college major and positively affected their studies in their senior year of college. Most participants valued their overall academic experience in the self-contained program, although a few reported that they were unable to learn so many science-related subjects simultaneously at such a fast pace, suggesting that this type of program needs to be differentiated. The social impacts of the program varied. Implications of the findings for educators as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.

Article link (paywall): Gifted Child Quarterly

Harrison J. Kell, Vanderbilt University, “Creativity and Technical Innovation: Spatial Ability's Unique Role,” (coauthors David Lubinski, Camilla P. Benbow and James H. Steiger)

Abstract: In the late 1970s, 563 intellectually talented 13-year-olds (identified by the SAT as in the top 0.5 percent of ability) were assessed on spatial ability. More than 30 years later, the present study evaluated whether spatial ability provided incremental validity (beyond the SAT’s mathematical and verbal reasoning subtests) for differentially predicting which of these individuals had patents and three classes of refereed publications. A two-step discriminant-function analysis revealed that the SAT subtests jointly accounted for 10.8 percent of the variance among these outcomes (p < .01); when spatial ability was added, an additional 7.6 percent was accounted for — a statistically significant increase (p < .01). The findings indicate that spatial ability has a unique role in the development of creativity, beyond the roles played by the abilities traditionally measured in educational selection, counseling and industrial-organizational psychology. Spatial ability plays a key and unique role in structuring many important psychological phenomena and should be examined more broadly across the applied and basic psychological sciences.

Article link (open access): Psychological Science

Nielsen Pereira, Purdue University, “A Qualitative Inquiry Into the Experiences of High-Potential Hispanic English Language Learners in Midwestern Schools” (coauthor Marcia Gentry)

Abstract: The underrepresentation of English language learners (ELLs) in gifted programs remains a severe and pervasive problem; however, few studies exist concerning the educational experiences of high-potential ELLs. This study focused on Hispanic ELLs in Grades 2 through 6 from four Midwestern schools. In all, 22 students, 20 parents and 22 teachers were interviewed to gain a better understanding of the students’ schooling experiences. Phenomenology and grounded theory provided theoretical frameworks. Students revealed that they enjoyed school, had positive interactions with peers and teachers, and were committed to doing well in school. Results of this study also revealed that the participants were well integrated in school. This study adds to the limited research concerning high-potential Hispanic ELLs and provides insights into these students’ educational experiences, highlighting the need to focus on their strengths rather than on their deficits. Emphasized is the need to identify high potential from underserved populations for gifted education services.

Article link (paywall): Journal of Advanced Academics