The population of intellectually gifted youth encompasses a wide range of abilities, talents, temperaments, and personality characteristics. Although generalizations are often made outside of the empirical literature regarding the interpersonal skills of these children, much remains to be understood about their social behavior. The aim of this study was to examine the within-group differences of gifted children, and it was hypothesized that subgroups of the gifted population would differ from each other in terms of interpersonal skill development. Gifted education teachers within a large K-12 public school district in the Southwestern United States completed the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) regarding the social-emotional competence of 206 elementary and middle school students classified as gifted. Correlational analyses and factorial analysis of variance were conducted to compare interpersonal skills (as measured by DESSA ratings) and students' level of giftedness, area of identification as gifted, gender, and age. Results indicated that interpersonal skills were significantly related to gender, area of identification, and level of giftedness. Female children were described as having significantly higher levels of interpersonal skills overall, and children identified as gifted with both nonverbal and quantitative measures exhibited significantly higher levels of interpersonal skills than those identified with verbal or nonverbal measures alone. Significant correlations were also observed between the level of children's estimated gifted abilities and their interpersonal skills. Trends in the data suggested that as children's cognitive abilities increased, their interpersonal skills also increased, placing profoundly gifted children at social advantages over their moderately gifted peers. However, it was also noted that although the two variables were significantly related, they were not commensurate. While children presented with above-average cognitive abilities, their interpersonal skills were within the average range. This suggests that gifted children may benefit from interventions that target interpersonal skill development, in an effort to bring their social skills more in line with their cognitive abilities.
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