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Evaluating the Relationship Between Internalizing Symptoms and Giftedness Using a Contexualist Approach
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The extant research landscape remains unable to resolve the question of whether or not gifted youth are at a higher risk for internalizing symptoms than their peers, with prominent research supporting both perspectives. Much of this controversy seems to stem from methodologies that do not conceptualize giftedness from the currently accepted contextualist framework. The current study sought to address this concern by investigating the relationship between giftedness, anxiety, and depression using a contextualist model incorporating manifested and developmental potential. In a sample of 162 youth, gifted identification status, academic achievement, and overexcitability were assessed alongside symptoms of anxiety and depression. Group mean comparisons, multiple regressions, and mixed model SEM analyses were conducted to determine the unique predictive value of gifted identification, academic achievement, and giftedness incorporating both manifested and developmental potential. Results indicated that neither gifted identification nor academic achievement were associated with symptoms of either anxiety or depression; however, a unified gifted latent variable constructed from manifested potential (academic achievement) and developmental potential (intellectual, emotional, and imaginational overexcitability) was able to predict both anxiety (β = 0.886, p < 0.05) and depression (β = 0.651, p < 0.05) with a large effect size (RFI = 0.805). This suggests that giftedness has a direct relationship on anxiety and depression when accounting for developmental potential. These results suggest that the way gifted youth interact with their environment puts them at unique risk for developing internalizing symptoms. This has implications for research in that future research in this area should utilize a contextualist model of giftedness when investigating the prevalence and development of internalizing symptoms, and implications for practice in that educational and mental health professionals should be aware of these developmental impacts when identifying, educating, and treating gifted youth
Wiley, Colby Paul (2019). Evaluating the Relationship Between Internalizing Symptoms and Giftedness Using a Contexualist Approach. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from