Intellectual capital maintains and advances modern societies. Though understudied, intellectually precocious individuals possess the highest potential for advancing society, through innovation, and solving humanity’s urgent problems (e.g., climate change, cybersecurity, disease). We will study how their potential unfolds and is realized. We will address: How well does exceptional intellectual talent, our country’s intellectual capital, identified at age 12 predict and lead to outstanding accomplishments and creativity by age 50 and beyond—the years of maximum professional generativity? How is such early potential fulfilled and realized for societal good? What are the chief facilitators of and barriers to accomplishment, eminence, and the varied contributions to society?
The development of STEM talent will be given particular attention. In addition, gender similarities and differences in how meaningful and productive lives are accomplished will be examined.
SMPY’s “big data” repository comprises 5 cohorts of intellectually gifted individuals (over 5,000) assessed at multiple time points (from age 12 into their 50s). Our comprehensive database will be analyzed, supplemented with publicly available information on participants, prepared for the age 65 survey, and designed for contemporary and future scientists to mine.
Anticipated project impact includes: 1. articles published in high impact scientific journals and promoted via mainstream and social media; 2. new future scientists launched for advancing knowledge on and promoting exceptional intellectual talent; 3. a 50-year capstone review of SMPY’s major findings—specifying principles for optimization and societal utilization of genius-level talent; 4. scientific understanding of how positive psychological states (e.g., self-actualization, flow, peak experiences) come into being and are sustained; 5. influence how to nourish intellectual talent for its fruition; and 6. evidence for framing public policy.