Gifted Children’s Identity Formation: Influential Factors And Significance (pp. 51-94)
Authors: Zuo, Li (Center for Gifted Children, Washington, DC)
Abstract: The present study used Terman’s longitudinal database to investigate intellectually gifted students’ occupational identity formation in the framework of Erikson’s identity theory operationalized by Marcia. Influential factors identified by studies of the general population were explored with this gifted group. As consistent with the literature, parents’ encouragement of independence and availability of role models were found to be conducive to identity formation while unfavorable social conditions such as war had a negative effect. However, contrary to popular belief, multipotentiality did not turn out to be an impediment to occupational decision-making among this group of gifted students. Another unexpected finding was the impressive performance of the Foreclosure Status over the Moratorium, a supposedly higher identity status. The strong correlation between identity formation and adult achievement suggested the importance of a clearly established identity to life accomplishment as well as the need for its research in gifted education.