The Social World of Gifted Adolescents: Sociometric Status, Friendship, Social Network Centrality
The current project is the first study to investigate the competence of academically gifted youth across multiple dimensions of the peer system. To date, there is no comprehensive examination of the social functioning of gifted youth, severely limiting what is known about the overall social world of gifted youth and the extent to which the subset of gifted youth with peer problems experience the same adjustment difficulties related to negative peer interactions. By examining how aspects of sociometric status, friendship and social network centrality relate to a myriad of outcome variables, the current study permits a comprehensive investigation of the risk profile associated with problematic peer relations among gifted youth within the adjustment domains (behavioral, academic and psychological functioning). Participants included 327 adolescents, 149 identified as gifted, who were initially assessed in the 7th grade and were then reassessed 2 years later.
Consistent with prior research, findings from the current student provided evidence that academic giftedness was generally associated with more positive peer relations as well as more positive functioning across behavioral, academic and adjustment domains when compared to non-gifted adolescents. However, findings from the current study did not find evidence suggesting that gifted youth experience significantly less peer problems than their non-gifted peers. As such, the current study substantiates predictions that there are indeed subgroups of gifted youth who experience peer problems and they were found to be similarly at risk as non-gifted adolescents with peer problems regarding negative behavioral, academic and psychological adjustment. However, the most alarming finding revealed that the negative effects of being rejected were more pronounced for gifted students, who were the most victimized students in the entire sample, even more than non-gifted peers who were rejected. Findings from the current study highlight the complexity of the social world of gifted adolescents and underscore the importance for future research to continue examining the social difficulties of gifted youth. Limitations and implications of these results are discussed.
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