Characteristics of Students who are Gifted

text "The intellectual and emotional traits of gifted children."
group of students holding letters that spell GIFTED

The following charts list some intellectual and emotional traits of children who are gifted. Some key things to keep in mind are:

  • Groups of children who are gifted often have differences among themselves which are as great as differences from other students.
  • It is highly unlikely for a child who is gifted to have all of the characteristics on both charts.



  • A strong desire to learn.
  • Initiates, directs and sustains individual or group behaviours in order to attain a goal.


  • Advanced, intense, sometimes unusual interests.
  • Special attention is given to activities, avocations, subjects that have special worth or significance.

Problem-solving ability

  • Effective, often inventive strategies for recognizing and solving problems.
  • Process of determining a correct sequence of alternatives leading to a desired goal or to successful completion of a performance or task.


Heightened sensitivity

  • Compassion, consideration and understanding of others
  • Protective, nurturing, easily moved to tears
  • Aware of others’ feelings
  • Sensitive to injustice, criticism, pain
  • Strong need for consistency between values and actions within self and others
  • Caring, understanding
  • Forming strong attachments
  • Empowering others
  • Aesthetic sensitivity (appreciation for complexity in works of art and ability to interpret works of art)

Heightened intensity of experience

  • Energetic, enthusiastic
  • Intensely absorbed in various pursuits
  • Vivid imagination
  • Emotional vulnerability
  • Emotional intensity (experiences emotions strongly and may be emotionally reactive)
  • Strong attachments and commitments
  • High expectations of self and others
  • Forming strong attachments
  • Empowering others
  • Aesthetic sensitivity (appreciation for complexity in works of art and ability to interpret works of art)


  • May be a high achiever
  • Exhibit high personal standards
  • Set unrealistic expectations
  • Demonstrate persistence, perseverance and enthusiastic devotion to work
  • May give up if own standards are not met, or if a mistake is made
  • Self-evaluative and self-judging
  • May have feelings of inadequacy and inferiority and desire praise and reassurance
  • May become extremely defensive if given criticism
  • Less tolerant of imperfection in others
  • May procrastinate


  • Have deep feelings
  • Are reflective and introspective
  • Focus on inner-growth through searching, questioning and exercising self-correction judgment
  • Have knowledge about emotions
  • May withdraw into themselves rather than acting out aggressively toward others

Superior humor

  • Conveys and picks up on humor quickly and well
  • Ability to synthesize key ideas or problems in complex situations in a humorous way
  • Exceptional sense of timing in words and gestures
  • Keen sense of humor that may be gentle or hostile
  • Large accumulation of information about emotions
  • Capacity for seeing the unusual
  • Uncommon emotional depth
  • Openness to experiences
  • Sensory awareness

Moral sensitivity

  • Emotional sensitivity
  • Innate sense of right and wrong
  • Complex inner life
  • Early ethical concerns
  • Heightened awareness of the world
  • Advanced moral reasoning and judgment
  • High moral values
  • Feel empathy for others
  • Tolerance (not aggression)
  • Responsibility for others and self
  • Just attitude (treating everybody by the same standards)
  • Truthfulness
  • Authenticity
  • Courage in the face of adversity
  • Altruism and idealism (desire to enhance caring and civility in the community and in society at large)