Stereotypes and beliefs regarding intellectually gifted students: Perceptions of pre-service school counselors

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special




This study investigated the perceptions of 104 pre-service school counselors regarding students identified as intellectually gifted. Two instruments were used in the study: the Adjective Checklist (ACL) and the Child Behavioral Checklist, Youth Self Report (YSR). Participants were asked to complete the ACL by endorsing the words they considered most characteristic of a typical gifted student of high intelligence. Items most frequently endorsed indicated a predominantly positive perception (e.g., “ambitious,” “confident”). This finding was supported by a paired-samples t test that indicated a significantly greater score on the ACL favorability scale compared to the score on the ACL unfavorability scale. However, negative perceptions were also observed (e.g., “anxious,” “arrogant”). The YSR was used to exploring the sample's perception of the psychosocial adjustment of intellectually gifted students as compared to their non-gifted peers. By assuming the position of a student that was identified as either a male, gifted male, female, or gifted female, participants completed the 112-Likert items on the measure designed to assess adjustment in eight areas: anxiety/depression, withdrawn/depression, somatic complaints, social problems, thought problems, attention problems, rule-breaking behavior, and aggressive behavior. A 2 x 2 MANOVA indicated significant differences between the groups by gender and by their classification (gifted and non-gifted) but not their interaction. Post hoc ANOVAs and DISCRIMs identified several areas of difference between groups for each main effect. For gender, those in the role of a male indicated more rule-breaking and aggressive behaviors than those in the role of a female. For classification, those in the role of a gifted student rated themselves higher than those in the role of a non-gifted student on anxiety/depression and thought problems. Conversely, those in the role of a gifted student endorsed significantly less difficulty with attention problems, rule-breaking behaviors, and aggressive behaviors compared to those in the non-gifted student role. Results indicated the presence of stereotyped perceptions of gifted students as both maladjusted and better-adjusted in particular areas of psychosocial functioning. Findings suggest the need for experiences that allow pre-services school counselors to explore their perceptions and challenge the content of stereotyped beliefs about students identified as intellectually gifted. ^