Self-Concept and the Gifted Child

Robert D. Hoge
Joseph S. Renzulli

Three issues are addressed in this monograph. First, do gifted and average children differ in their self-concepts? Second, what, if any, are the effects on self-concept of labeling a child as gifted or exceptional? Third, does placing the child in a separate enriched or accelerated classroom have any impact on self-concept? The paper begins with a discussion of issues relating to self-concept and giftedness constructs. This is followed by a review of the research evidence bearing on the three questions. That research is shown to yield variable results and to exhibit some methodological flaws. Nevertheless, some conclusions regarding the three issues are stated. The monograph concludes with discussions of the implications of the results for future research and for the counseling of gifted students.


Hoge, R. D., & Renzulli, J. S. (1991). Self-concept and the gifted child (RBDM9104). Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.

Self-Concept and the Gifted Child
Robert D. Hoge
Joseph S. Renzulli


Conclusions & Guidelines

  1. The direct comparisons of gifted and nongifted students revealed that the gifted students as a group showed no major deficits in self-esteem.
  2. Some indirect evidence exists that labeling a child gifted would have a positive impact on self-esteem, but direct evidence is lacking.
  3. There is some support for a social comparison type of process; that is, that moving a child from a regular classroom to a homogeneous, highly gifted group will have a negative impact on self-concept.
  4. It is imperative that future researchers pay more careful attention to their treatment of self-concept and giftedness variables.
  5. There is a need for more attention to the definition and measurement of the giftedness construct.
  6. Future research must attend more closely to experimental design.
  7. There is a need for longitudinal studies in which changes in the relation between giftedness and self-concept can be explored at different age levels.
  8. Counseling with gifted and talented students should have a developmental focus.
  9. Exceptional children often have special needs with respect to emotional health and social competence; systematic efforts should be made to accommodate these needs.