Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about giftedness


What is intelligence?

“Intelligence is a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—‘catching on’, ‘making sense’ of things, or ‘figuring out’ what to do.” (Linda Gottfredson, 1997, p. 13).

This quotation makes it clear that intelligence includes a variety of thinking skills. Typically, these occur collectively within individuals. For example, someone who easily grasps complex ideas also learns more quickly from experience. This phenomenon is referred to as general intelligence. At the same time, it is possible to distinguish among these different thinking skills in terms of which performance they influence and to what extent.

Thus, verbal intelligence primarily influences linguistic performance, numerical intelligence primarily influences mathematical performance, and figural-spatial intelligence influences drawing and design performance. A person’s individual thinking abilities are not always equally strong; individual strengths and weaknesses could also become apparent, and these can be depicted in intelligence profiles. Profiles that are unbalanced, that is, with specific individual strengths and—when viewed in comparison—weaknesses, are more likely to be found in the realm of high intelligence than in the realm of average intelligence.


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