A new meta-analysis suggests there are significant differences between gifted and non-gifted individuals in openness to experience, in favour of gifted individuals. However, no differences were observed in other dimensions of Big Five personality. This research was published in the journal High Ability Studies.
Personality traits refer to between-person differences in patterns of thoughts, emotions, and actions, and can predict positive outcomes in various life successes. The Big Five personality model has five dimensions, including extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. Each dimension is defined by specific traits. For example, openness to experience is related to curiosity, originality and creativity, while neuroticism is associated with nervousness, moodiness, and low emotional control.
Educators tend to hold stereotypes about gifted individuals, expecting them to be oddly different from others, or lower in social and emotional skills. Such stereotypes can exaggerate reality and promote unrealistic expectations of gifted students. In this work, Uzeyir Ogurlu and Adnan Özbey conducted a meta-analysis to examine potential personality differences between gifted and non-gifted individuals, from the perspective of the Big Five personality model. Age, gender location of study (i.e., America, Europe, Middle East), as well as gifted sample selection (i.e., selection based on assessment criteria vs. selection based on participation in gifted programs or schools for gifted students), were considered as moderators.
Studies were included if they were written in English, were quantitative studies reporting statistics that allowed for a calculation of effect size, and were comparing the Big Five personality dimensions among gifted and non-gifted individuals. A total of 13 studies were included in the final data set. Each study was coded for various information (e.g., publication year, sample size, effect size) and potential moderators. The publication year of included studies ranged from 1995 to 2020, with a total sample size of 7976 participants (3244 gifted and 4732 non-gifted individuals). Eighty-two effect sizes were derived from the 13 studies.
Ogurlu and Özbey found that gifted (vs. non-gifted) individuals scored higher in openness to experience. However, they found no differences in other dimensions of Big Five personality. Further, none of the moderators were significant in the big five personality dimensions. Given intelligence is an important element in all conceptualizations of giftedness, prior studies have suggested openness is most closely associated with intelligence; this aligns with the findings of the current meta-analysis as well. But, contrary to prior work, this work found no differences in neuroticism between gifted and non-gifted individuals.
As well, previous research has revealed that various traits associated with openness, such as openness to discovery, curiosity, creativity, and exploration are characteristic of gifted individuals. Accordingly, the current work debunked the misconception that gifted individuals have a maladaptive personality or experience social difficulties.
Limitations include the use of a funnel-plot to assess for publication bias, as well as a moderate sample size for a meta-analysis. Further, the identification process of gifted individuals was not considered as a moderator, as this information was not provided in most studies.
The study, “Personality differences in gifted versus non-gifted individuals: A three-level meta-analysis”, was authored by Uzeyir Ogurlu and Adnan Özbey.