Table 1: Historical definitions and identification that influenced the understanding of profound giftedness.

Historical influences


Definitions and identification

Terman [1]

Gifted; Genius

Revised the Simon-Binet and developed the Stanford-Binet; studied 1,528 participants with IQ of 140+ on the Stanford-Binet scale

Hollingworth [2]

Children above 180 IQ

Identified (12) children with IQ of 180+ on the Stanford-Binet intelligence scales and tracked their development; findings published in her book, Children Above 180 IQ: Origin and Development by her husband Harry Hollingworth in 1942 [2].

Marland Report [13]


Six areas of giftedness: General intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability, visual and performing arts ability, and psychomotor ability.


Precocious youth

Identified gifted students 13 years or younger through a score of 700 or greater on the mathematics section, and later the reading section, of the SAT.

Piechowski [21]


Identified psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional overexcitabilities and develop-mental potential in gifted individuals

Jacob Javits Gifted
and Talented Students
Act [22]

gifted and talented

Demonstrate high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields (Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Act, 1988) [22].

Columbus Group


Asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm; asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity, and the uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable, requiring modifications in parenting,
teaching, and counseling in order for them to develop optimally (Morelock, p.3) [69].

Gross [3,36]

Exceptionally gifted

20-year longitudinal study of 60 children with IQ of 160+; published findings for 15 children in Exceptionally Gifted Children

Davidson Institute for
Talent Development

Profoundly gifted

Those scoring in the 99th percentile of IQ and achievement tests; IQ = 145+

Clark [26]


Giftedness is a biologically rooted concept that is the result of a high level of integration and acceleration among the neural cells within the brain. The level of intelligence and the structure and process of thinking and learning change, becoming more complex, accelerated, and indepth. Giftedness may be developed and expressed to a moderate, high, or profound level (Clark, p.56) [26]

IGC, Research Center
for Highly-Profoundly
Gifted [27]


Profound giftedness is significantly advanced cognitive abilities and development, as compared to those of peers in the chronological age group, experienced through heightened sensitivity, intensity, and awareness identifiable through social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and/or altruistic behaviors, developmental milestones, and life experiences across the lifespan. This intuitive, and often asynchronous, human development is at high risk of misunderstanding, misidentification, and misdiagnosis (the 3Ms), and requires support and scaffolding from like-minded peers, mentors, and practitioners to meet the profoundly gifted individual’s exceptionally unique educational and developmental needs, and to provide fitting opportunities for positive growth and well-being (IGC, Research Center for The Highly-Profoundly Gifted, based on the works of Terman, Hollingworth, Columbus Group, Clark, Gross, Dabrowski & Piechowski, Webb, et al.) [1-3,7,27,80].