Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



Many scholars of gifted education have often argued and believed that gifted individuals are neurologically overexcitable while non-gifted persons are not (Chang & Kuo, 2013; Harrison & Haneghan, 2011; Piechowski, 1979, 2006; Silverman, 2000a; Siu, 2010; Tieso, 2007a). This means that gifted persons are more sensitive, intuitive, empathic, and physically and emotionally aware. Some scholars have suggested that this significant degree of overexcitability may even mean that gifted persons are morally superior to non-gifted persons (Silverman, 1994). Over the past thirty years, this relationship between overexcitability (OE) and giftedness has become increasingly popular, as many websites, textbooks, and researchers have asserted it as true. These resources have also advocated a particular treatment and understanding of gifted persons due to their overexcitable nature. Recently, however, some scholars have questioned the validity of the giftedness-overexcitability relationship (Mendaglio, 2002; Pyrt, 2008; Tillier, 2009a). So, while the past thirty years have seen a rise in the perception that gifted persons are overexcitable (Silverman, 2008), these scholars have contended that there is actually little empirical data demonstrating this relationship (Mendaglio; Pyrt; Tillier). Using a systematic review of studies that compared gifted and non-gifted samples’ OE scores, this dissertation attempted to provide some clarity to this burgeoning debate. This process involved a research synthesis that used a priori established criteria to identify, describe, and evaluate the findings and methodologies of a body of literature’s most rigorously conducted studies (Petticrew, 2001). The evaluation phase of the systematic review included both qualitative and quantitative techniques. These findings revealed that it is unclear that gifted individuals are significantly more overexcitable than non-gifted individuals. Consequently, researchers, practitioners, and gifted persons themselves should reconsider the relationship between giftedness and overexcitability.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Culross, Rita

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Education Commons