Prof. Dr. David Lubinski
Vanderbilt University Tennessee, USA

Finding and Nurturing Exceptional Intellectual Talent: Its Long-Term Impact Over 45 Years


Who among intellectually talented young adolescents become eminent and creative adults?  Do educational interventions experienced in adolescence boost adult creativity and professional accomplishment?  Can we enhance the likelihood of true excellence emerging?  What happens to the mathematically talented women? How do they structure their lifestyles? Do we systematically miss certain groups of individuals with current talent search procedures?  Is there a threshold effect of ability on achievement, or do individual differences within the top 1% of ability matter in life?  These and other compelling questions on talent development will be addressed using longitudinal data collected by the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) over four decades on 5,000 participants within the top 1% in ability.  Findings reveal that multiple dimensions of cognitive abilities are needed to understand the development of exceptional human capital in educational and occupational settings. This idea will be validated against real-world criteria: securing advanced educational degrees, occupations of responsibility, and creative accomplishments (viz., refereed publications, patents, & prestigious awards). When the educational curriculum is tailored to the intellectual development of students, the likelihood of exceptional accomplishments is enhanced, and when the motivational proclivities of each student are also taken into account more refined predictions about differential development become possible. Affording intellectually talented youth opportunities to develop their full potential is more critical than ever as modern societies compete in global economies.

Zur Person

David Lubinski received both his B.A. (1981) and Ph.D. (1987) in psychology from the University of Minnesota. From 1987-1990, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow, Quantitative Methods Training Program, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois (Champaign). He is currently Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University where, with Camilla P. Benbow, he co-directs the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), a planned 50-year longitudinal study of over 5,000 intellectually talented participants, begun in 1971. His research interests are in modeling the development of exceptional intellectual talent over the lifespan (with cognitive, affective, and conative assessments) to uncover factors that enhance and attenuate learning and work accomplishments as well as creativity and eminence. He has served as President for the International Society for Intelligence Research, a trustee for the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology, and Associate Editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. He received APA’s 1996 Early Career Award (psychometrics/applied individual differences); and he has received APA’s George A. Miller Outstanding Article in General Psychology Award twice: 1996 and 2016. In 2006, he received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children; and, in 2015, the MENSA Research Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Recently, the International Society for Intelligence Research awarded him its highest honor: the Lifetime Achievement Award: For Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Intelligence (2018).