An investigation of multipotentiality among university honors students

Date of Completion

January 1999


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Higher




Multipotentiality and giftedness have been consistently associated with one another in the career counseling literature. Because gifted students generally have diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavors or professions, they are confronted with unique decisions as a result of these choices. When encountering multiple opportunities, some students may experience confusion, anxiety and frustration because they fear missing something or making a wrong decision. For other students, similar situations offer opportunities for exploration, productivity, and self-actualization. Most of the knowledge surrounding the construct of multipotentiality is based on assumptions and conflicting empirical research studies that have either supported its existence or dismissed it as minimal or non-existent. ^ In this study, university honors students completed a survey dealing with multipotentiality entitled the Attitudes Toward Life Choices Survey (ATLC). A confirmatory factor analysis supported a four-factor model for the ATLC, which identified healthy or unhealthy attitudes of honors students toward the numerous choices that they face. As described by self-reported high aptitude and interests across a wide variety of areas, 84% of the respondents demonstrated multipotentiality. Within this group, a continuum existed, as approximately 10% of the population exhibited unhealthy attitudes toward life choices, described as having difficulty with decision-making and career planning, and 20% of the respondents had healthy attitudes regarding multipotentiality and were able to both select areas of interest and identify directions for careers. Descriptive statistics and qualitative data collected from interviews with 12 purposively selected participants revealed further differences among these two groups such as: major-switching, goal-orientation, romance with a field, and the ability to focus on a career plan. ^