Whispers from the Cradle: Predictions of Talent in Adulthood from Childhood Variables
Talent is valued and enjoyed in the community, yet research emphasis has been on identifying and developing elite talent, usually in children. Scant information exists about talent in an adult general population. A literature review considers prominent models of exceptional talent, as well as research on vocational and leisure talent. This thesis reports on the development of the Talents and Achievements Questionnaire, and results of its use in establishing the prevalence and distribution of specific talents within a large (n=959) general population, all of whom were enrolled in the long-running Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. Also, the thesis describes the associations between selected childhood developmental factors and talents reported later in adult life. Key findings were that participants reported multiple talents and the distributions of these were positively skewed. Talents varied in how frequently they were reported and there were sex differences in the types of talent reported. Men rated their level of talent (but not the number of talents they reported) more highly than women. There were many predictive associations between childhood factors and adult talents. The numbers and strengths of these varied. Generally, developmental advantage increased the likelihood of reporting a talent, although a few talents had negative associations, meaning that childhood adversity increased the likelihood of report. These are new insights into an important aspect of general life. Interpretation of results regarding the number of talents reported is limited by the absence of other general population studies, although expert-talent theorists generally agree that individuals can have multiple talents, and the specific distributions of the level of each talent are also consistent with the expert-talent literature.
Advisor: Poulton, Richie; Knight, Robert
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: talent; general population; developmental predictors; longitudinal
Research Type: Thesis