Letter from a “Gifted” Kid

Last year I gave a talk in Vancouver on testing, intelligence, and potential. Most of the audience consisted of parents and educators. But it’s not their questions that stuck most in my mind.

I was especially struck by the points made by a young kid. I told him if he wanted to write something to me, I’d publish it in some form. Well, he recently sent me the letter below.

His name is Omar, and he is in gifted education. He makes some great points. Maybe it’s time we stopped fighting so many battles among ourselves and listen more to children.

They keep it real.

my name is Omar, I am twelve, and lots of parents say things to each other like: “my child is gifted because my child doesn’t have to work hard and your child does need to work hard so he/she is not gifted.” I say as a “gifted” child myself all gifted kids have to work hard its only 1 or 2 subjects that we need a challenge or find easy. if you say things like or related to: my child is gifted because my child doesn’t have to work hard and your child does need to work– just be quiet and keep to yourself, because it really doesn’t matter. as a gifted child I believe (I have no clue whether other gifted kids feel this way) that if I get labelled gifted highly able or even highly gifted I don’t really care because I was always like that I have no point of reference. so instead of proving your child gifted to the teachers,school staff, etc. and making your child undergo seemingly endless tests just let them do what they want. if they like it where they are leave them be if they want something new THEN AND ONLY THEN let them get tested and always leave the option to go back to where they were.

Take it from a gifted kid

      / \

STUDY ALERT: Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis

Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis 

Brooke N. Macnamara, David Z. Hambrick, and Frederick L. Oswald


More than 20 years ago, researchers proposed that individual differences in performance in such domains as music, sports, and games largely reflect individual differences in amount of deliberate practice, which was defined as engagement in structured activities created specifically to improve performance in a domain. This view is a frequent topic of popular- science writing—but is it supported by empirical evidence? To answer this question, we conducted a meta-analysis covering all major domains in which deliberate practice has been investigated. We found that deliberate practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports, 4% for education, and less than 1% for professions. We conclude that deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued.

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STUDY ALERT: The relationship among geometry, working memory, and intelligence in children

The relationship among geometry, working memory, and intelligence in children 

David Giofrè, Irene Cristina Mammarella, Cesare Cornoldi 

Although geometry is one of the main areas of mathematical learning, the cognitive processes underlying geometry-related academic achievement have not been studied in detail. This study explored the relationship among working memory (WM), intelligence (g factor), and geometry in 176 typically developing children attending school in their fourth and fifth grades. Structural equation model- ing showed that approximately 40% of the variance in academic achievement and in intuitive geometry (which is assumed to be independent of a person’s cultural background) was explained by WM and the g factor. After taking intelligence and WM into account, intuitive geometry was no longer significantly related to academic achievement in geometry. We also found intuitive geometry to be closely related to fluid intelligence (as measured by Raven’s colored progressive matrices) and reasoning ability, whereas academic achievement in geometry depended largely on WM. These results were confirmed by a series of regressions in which we estimated the contributions of WM, intelligence, and intuitive geometry to the unique and shared variance explaining academic achievement in geometry. Theoretical and educational implications of the relationship among WM, intelligence, and aca- demic achievement in geometry are discussed.

STUDY ALERT: Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition: Advancing the Debate

Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition: Advancing the Debate 

Jonathan St. B. T. Evans1 and Keith E. Stanovich 

Dual-process and dual-system theories in both cognitive and social psychology have been subjected to a number of recently published criticisms. However, they have been attacked as a category, incorrectly assuming there is a generic version that applies to all. We identify and respond to 5 main lines of argument made by such critics. We agree that some of these arguments have force against some of the theories in the literature but believe them to be overstated. We argue that the dual-processing distinction is supported by much recent evidence in cognitive science. Our preferred theoretical approach is one in which rapid autonomous processes (Type 1) are assumed to yield default responses unless intervened on by distinctive higher order reasoning processes (Type 2). What defines the difference is that Type 2 processing supports hypothetical thinking and load heavily on working memory.

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STUDY ALERT: Psychoticism and salience network morphology

Psychoticism and salience network morphology

Rajeev Krishnadas, Lena Palaniyappan, Jason Lang, John McLean, Jonathan Cavanagh

The concept of salience is increasingly recognised to be fundamental to understand the neural basis of information processing. A large-scale brain network called the salience network, anchored in the anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortex, performs a key function in information processing by enabling ‘switching’ between brain states. Abnormalities in this function, recently termed as ‘proximal salience’, has been proposed to be a core feature in the development of psychotic symptoms. At present, it is unknown if abnormalities in the network are associated with normal variations in personality traits such as psychoticism that could predispose to psychotic experiences in otherwise healthy subjects. The aim of the paper is to examine the relationship between psychoticism and salience network morphology in a group of non-clinical male subjects. Greater psychoticism was associated with smaller salience network surface area. The findings reinforce a continuum model with psychosis- proneness and psychosis being on the same neurobiological axis. A focussed investigation of factors determining the inter-individual variations in regional surface area in the adult brain could provide further clarity in our understanding of various determinants of enduring patterns of human behaviour.

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STUDY ALERT: The Dark Triad and the seven deadly sins

The Dark Triad and the seven deadly sins

Livia Veselka, Erica A. Giammarco, Philip A. Vernon

The present study reports on the development and validation of the Vices and Virtues Scales (VAVS), which assesses individual differences in the propensity to engage in the seven deadly sins. Item-level analyses, exploratory factor analysis, and confirmatory factor analysis were conducted on two independent samples of adults. Results indicated that all items composing the scale are psychometrically sound, and some evidence was found in support of the measure’s seven-factor structure. Further analyses of the VAVS subscales and the Dark Triad traits revealed significant positive correlations between nearly all traits assessed. Implications of these findings for the Dark Triad cluster and the overall comprehensiveness of contemporary personality frameworks are discussed.

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STUDY ALERT: Unpacking grit: Motivational correlates of perseverance and passion for long-term goals

Unpacking grit: Motivational correlates of perseverance and passion for long-term goals 

Katherine R. Von Culina, Eli Tsukayamab and Angela L. Duckworthb

In two cross-sectional studies, we explored the motivational orientations correlates of the character strength of grit and its two component facets: perseverance of effort and consistency of interests over time. Specifically, we examined how individual differences in grit are explained by distinct approaches to pursuing happiness in life: pleasure in immediately hedonically positive activities, meaning in activities that serve a higher, altruistic purpose, and engagement in attention- absorbing activities. In both samples, grit demonstrated medium-sized associations with an orientation toward engagement, small-to-medium associations with an orientation toward meaning, and small-to-medium (inverse) associations with an orientation toward pleasure. These motivational orientations differentially related to the two facets of grit: pursuing engagement was more strongly associated with perseverance of effort, whereas pursuing pleasure was more strongly (inversely) associated with consistency of interests over time. Collectively, findings suggest that individual differences in grit may derive in part from differences in what makes people happy.

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STUDY ALERT: The Entire Intelligence-Expertise Debate (UPDATED)

Click here to download the entire intelligence-expertise debate



Introduction to the intelligence special issue on the development of expertise: is ability necessary?

Douglas K. Detterman

Target Papers:

Experts are born, then made: Combining prospective and retrospective longitudinal data shows that cognitive ability matters

Jonathan Wai


Putting practice into perspective: Child prodigies as evidence of innate talent

Joanne Ruthsatz, Kyle Ruthsatz, Kimberly Ruthsatz Stephens


The role of intelligence for performance in the prototypical expertise domain of chess

Roland H. Grabner


Practice, intelligence, and enjoyment in novice chess players: A prospective study at the earliest stage of a chess career

Anique B.H. de Bruin, Ellen M. Kok, Jimmie Leppink, Gino Camp


Nature, nurture, and expertise

Robert Plomin, Nicholas G. Shakeshaft, Andrew McMillan, Maciej Trzaskowski


Nonsense, common sense, and science of expert performance: Talent and individual differences

Phillip L. Ackerman


Deliberate practice: Is that all it takes to become an expert?

David Z. Hambrick, Frederick L. Oswald, Erik M. Altmann, Elizabeth J. Meinz, Fernand Gobet, Guillermo Campitelli


Creative performance, expertise acquisition, individual differences, and developmental antecedents: An integrative research agenda

Dean Keith Simonton



Why expert performance is special and cannot be extrapolated from studies of performance in the general population: A response to criticisms

K. Anders Ericsson


The Summation Theory as a multivariate approach to exceptional performers

Joanne Ruthsatz


What does it mean to be an expert?

Jonathan Wai


Accounting for expert performance: The devil is in the details

David Z. Hambrick, Erik M. Altmann, Frederick L. Oswald, Elizabeth J. Meinz, Fernand Gobet, Guillermo Campitelli


Nature, nurture, and expertise: Response to Ericsson

Robert Plomin, Nicholas G. Shakeshaft, Andrew McMillan, Maciej Trzaskowski


Addressing the recommended research agenda instead of repeating prior arguments

Dean Keith Simonton


Facts are stubborn things

Phillip L. Ackerman