A Synthesis of Research on Psychological Types of Gifted Adolescents

By Sak, Ugur | Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview
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A Synthesis of Research on Psychological Types of Gifted Adolescents

Sak, Ugur, Journal of Secondary Gifted Education

In this study, the author synthesizes results of studies about personality types of gifted adolescents. Fourteen studies were coded with 19 independent samples. The total number of identified participants in original studies was 5,723. The most common personality types among gifted adolescents were "intuitive" and "perceiving." They were higher on the Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Perceiving dimensions of the personality scales of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) when compared to general high school students. Also, gifted adolescents differed within the group by gender and by ability. Based on the findings, the author discusses teaching practices for gifted students according to their personality preferences.


The personality characteristics of highly able youth have been investigated extensively (Chiang, 1991; Cordrey, 1986; Gallagher, 1987; Geiger, 1992; Hawkins, 1997; Jackson, 1989; McCarthy, 1975; McGinn, 1976; Mills, 1984, Mills & Parker, 1998). In these studies, gifted adolescents were found to be different from the general adolescent population, as well as different among themselves in personality types as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Personality dimensions have also been shown to be associated with academic achievement and intelligence. For instance, Myers (1980) asserted that the possibility of one's being intuitive- introverted increases as academic giftedness increases. One might anticipate, then, that a high introvert or intuitive type may be related to high intellectual capacity and high academic achievement in one or more areas.

Psychological Type Theory

In the 1920s, Jung developed the theory of psychological types to elucidate natural differences in human behaviors. He postulated that apparently random behaviors of an individual could be understood in terms of his or her use of the functions of perception and judgment. Jung's theory differentiates between two typological categories: attitude-related types and function-related types. Jung portrayed the two attitude types in terms of directions or orientations in behaviors and interests of people toward the material world. These orientations bring about two attitude types: extraversion and introversion.

In relation to the extraversion-introversion dimension, the relationship between individual and environment is to be investigated. Extraverted types develop a strong awareness of their environment for stimulation. The typical extravert has a strong propensity to influence others, but is likely to be influenced by others, as well. Extraverts usually seem confident, accessible, and expansive in the manner in which they build relationships with others (Jung, 1971; Lawrence, 1984; Spoto, 1995). Introverts, on the contrary, are somewhat more independent and idea-oriented than the extraverts, as they usually get their excitement from the inner world. They may sometimes seem lost in thought or maybe somewhat inaccessible in the way they move around the world (Lawrence; Spoto).

The second typological category, function-related types, refers to the specific manner or means of adaptation that produces a consciously differentiated psychological function. Jung put forward four possible functions: "sensation, intuition, thinking, and feeling" (Spoto, 1995, p. 33). Jung used "judging" to describe the polarity of thinking-feeling dimensions, which reflects an individual's preference between two different types of judgment. Feeling types usually value harmony and human relationships in their judgments. They make decisions subjectively with a consideration of society's values. On the other hand, Jung (1971) designated "thinking" as an opposite function to "feeling." In contrast to feeling types, thinking types emphasize logic and objectivity in reasoning. This preference suppresses values and uses impersonal feelings in decision making (Spoto).

Jung (1971) believed that "sensation and intuition" constituted two perceiving types.

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A Synthesis of Research on Psychological Types of Gifted Adolescents


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