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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01972

Bringing Giftedness to Bear: Generativity, Meaningfulness, and Self-Control as Resources for a Happy Life among Gifted Adults

  • 1Faculty of Psychology and Sport Science, University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2MF Norwegian School of Theology, Norway

Meaning in life has been found to be of particular importance for the subjective well-being of intellectually gifted individuals. However, there is a lack of research about what contributes to gifted adults’ meaning in life and how it could be enhanced. This study examined if the devotion of one’s gift or talent to the well-being of others—i.e., the source of meaning “generativity”—would lead to a sense of meaning and, in further consequence, result in higher subjective well-being over time. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the effect of meaningfulness on subjective well-being was conditional on trait self-control. Longitudinal data of two gifted groups was obtained via an online study: 100 intellectually gifted individuals (55% female; mean age 43 ± 9 years) and 52 high academic achievers (29% female; mean age 57 ± 14 years). The former group experienced significantly lower levels of meaningfulness (p = 0.001, 2 = .076), self-control (p < 0.001, 2 = .090), and generativity (p = 0.025, 2 = .034) than the latter. As expected, the actualization of generative orientations in life enhanced both gifted groups’ meaningfulness and, in further consequence, their subjective well-being over time. Furthermore, the positive association between life meaning and subjective well-being was enhanced by trait self-control among the intellectually gifted but not among the high academic achievers. However, as proposed, the latter’s subjective well-being was strongly related to self-control. Results highlight that a generative orientation can help gifted individuals to advance a personal sense of meaning and happiness over time. In this context, intellectually gifted individuals appear to particularly benefit from self-control. Consequently, the intrinsic willpower to subdue inner responses, emotions as well as undesired behaviors might strengthen the positive effect between sources of meaning, life meaning, and subjective well-being.

Keywords: Giftedness, Meaningfulness, Generativity, Subjective well-being, Self-Control, Moderated mediation analyses, Intellectually Giftedness, High academic achievers

Received: 28 Mar 2019; Accepted: 12 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Vötter and Schnell. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mrs. Bernadette Vötter, Faculty of Psychology and Sport Science, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, 6020, Tyrol, Austria,