Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about giftedness


Is giftedness hereditary?

Differences in the characteristics of giftedness vary from one area to another (e.g., music, art, mathematics); thus, the question of heredity cannot be answered in a universal way. Yet in many areas, superior intelligence plays an important role in giftedness. This is especially true for intellectual giftedness. It is estimated that hereditary factors contribute 50 to 60 percent of the differences in intelligence between individuals. In other words, intellectual giftedness is to some extent genetically determined. The remaining proportion, that is, between 40 to 50 percent, is attributable to environmental factors. However, these percentages are not the same at all life stages.

The environment is ascribed a greater influence in children and younger adolescents, which gradually declines over the course of development. Genetic predispositions become more influential in late adolescence and early adulthood. Indeed, an increasing influence of our genes on intelligence appears to come about with age and when we seek out or create environments that are suited to us. Complex interactions between genetic makeup and the environment take place time and again over the course of a person’s life: Children will behave differently depending on their genetic makeup, and the environment will react accordingly. On the other hand, hereditary predispositions can also have different effects in different environments. If two people live in very different environments, intellectual differences between them can be explained to a greater extent by external conditions. When they live in very similar environments, differences in their intelligence may be more readily explained by their hereditary dispositions.


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