What does it mean to be “gifted”? Well, if you’re like most people, you probably think it’s about having an exceptionally high IQ or being a child prodigy at something. And while it’s certainly true that people who fall under these categories can be considered as gifted, it’s also time we realize that there are actually many different types of giftedness that often go overlooked and undervalued.
First studied by researchers George Betts and Maureen Neihart in their 1988 article “Profiles of the Gifted and Talented”, Betts and Neihart identified six different types of gifted individuals, according to their behaviors, feelings, and needs. So if you’re a gifted person and want to know which one you are, here are the 6 different types of giftedness:
1. The Successful Type
The most commonly recognized type of gifted individuals, Type 1s are those we’ve typically come to associate with the term because of their impressive academic performance and prestigious achievements. Think, “12-year-old graduates from Harvard, top of their class” or “brilliant student becomes youngest ever to win robotics award.” Most Type 1’s become even more driven to excel because of the high expectations placed upon them at a young age by their parents, teachers, and peers, making them eager for approval from others.
However, some Type 1s eventually become bored with school and lose their passion for learning, feeling like their giftedness has become their entire identity. This is because many parents and teachers make the mistake of focusing too much on developing their intelligence, talents, and skills that it stunts the Type 1’s personal, social, and emotional growth, making them competent but unimaginative and ill-adjusted adults.
2. The Challenging Type
Next we have the second type of giftedness known as “the challenging type.” Type 2s are labelled as such because they are often unafraid of challenging others and questioning authority. Highly creative, tenacious, and unconventional, Type 2s think so outside the box that it sometimes makes them difficult to get along with because of how disruptive and non conforming they can be. Often receiving little to no recognition for their giftedness, many Type 2s feel frustrated with the school setting because it stifles their creativity, overlooks their abilities, and keeps them from realizing their full potential. This is why a lot of Type 2s tend to develop delinquent behaviors or eventually drop out of school if they don’t have a support system in place and other positive influences in their life.
3. The Underground Type
Type 3s, also called “the underground types”, are gifted individuals who often want or try to hide their giftedness from others, either because they want to feel more included in a non-gifted peer group, feel too much pressure to excel, or dislike the intense scrutiny and attention that giftedness often brings with it. Those who don’t manifest their giftedness until late childhood or early adolescence tend to fall into this category, most likely because that is the age when the desire for belongingness and social approval typically starts to intensify. Thus, they end up denying their full capabilities and often feel insecure and anxious as a result. To remedy this, Type 3s need a lot of encouragement and understanding, not only from their parents and teachers but also their peers.
4. The Dropout Type
Another type of gifted individual most people are unaware of are Type 4s, also known as “the dropout types” or “the at-risk types.” Type 4s have earned a reputation for being labelled as such because they often struggle with feelings of anger, frustration, and depression as a result of their giftedness being overlooked. Similar to Type 2s, Type 4s struggle with their self-esteem because they feel rejected and unappreciated by others, not receiving the support and affirmation they need simply because their interests, skills, and talents do not align with the typical school curriculum. They are also known as the “drop out type” not necessarily because all Type 4s eventually drop out of school, but because they become mentally and emotionally invested in it.
5. The Double-Labelled Type
The fifth type of giftedness is the “double-labelled type,” which refers to gifted individuals who also have a physical or emotional handicap of some sort. Most have learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and so on, which makes it difficult for school systems and programs to identify them as gifted. Their handicap may also make it more difficult for them to complete their work on time or fulfill other structured tasks as easily as other gifted students, which makes them more easily discouraged, frustrated, and critical of themselves. Type 5s may also be impatient, stubborn, and sensitive to criticism, which only makes it more important that they be given the proper assistance to nurture their strengths and talents.
6. The Autonomous Type
Last but certainly not the least, we have the “autonomous type” of giftedness, which refers to those gifted individuals who are independent, conscientious, and self-reliant. Similar to Type 1s, Type 6s often find success and recognition because they have learned how to excel in the school setting and find ways to make the system work for them, always looking for new opportunities for themselves. Resourceful and goal-oriented, they are also natural born leaders and are well-respected by those around them. And unlike most other types, 6s know they’re gifted but aren’t preoccupied with impressing other people, gaining their approval, or fitting in with their peers because they have such a strong sense of personal power.
So, do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? Do you think you might be gifted and never realized it until now? Do you identify with any of the different types of giftedness? If you liked this article and want to read more, here’s what we recommend: 9 Signs You are A Gifted Person, 6 Signs You’re More Intelligent Than Others, and 7 Habits of Highly Intelligent People.
- Betts, G. T., & Neihart, M. (1988). Profiles of the Gifted and Talented. Gifted Child Quarterly, 32(2), 248–253. https://doi.org/10.1177/001698628803200202