ERG SES E 01, PechaKucha Poster Session
Teachers’ conceptions of giftedness influence which students they identify as gifted and how they behave towards these students. Research findings are mixed, showing an overall positive, negative, or ambivalent view that considers gifted students as intellectually strong, but socio-emotionally inferior. Such misconceptions might lead teachers to focus on their students’ perceived socio-emotional weaknesses instead of supporting their strengths. This study wants to identify how the label gifted influences teacher ratings of student characteristics. Furthermore, it aims to account for implicit teacher assumptions by using a social justice framework. We assume that the belief in a just world might moderate these assumptions as an inter-individual aspect of personality disposition.
There is evidence that gifted and average-ability students do not differ systematically in socio-emotional abilities and non-cognitive characteristics (Rost, 1993, 2009). Nevertheless, teachers sometimes hold incorrect attitudes towards gifted students, such as beliefs about systematic differences in personality traits and social abilities according to intellectual aptitude. Preckel and Vock (2012) consider giftedness a strong trigger that evokes contradictory stereotypes about the gifted. According to the harmony hypothesis, giftedness leads teachers to assume high competences in students' intellectual and other fields of abilities. As intelligence is a crucial characteristic of giftedness and additionally a socially desirable attribute, subjects conclude that giftedness may be associated with other positive attributes (Mõttus, Allik, Konstabel, Kangro, & Pullmann, 2008). The disharmony hypothesis, in contrast, states an ambivalent classification of character traits such as positive ratings of intellectual ability and negative ratings of social-emotional abilities (Becker, 1978; Gallagher, 1990; Neihart, 1999). Most recently, Baudson and Preckel (2013) found evidence consistent with the disharmony hypothesis, showing that German teachers and student teachers hold ambivalent attitudes and beliefs towards gifted students. In addition, Preckel, Matheis and Kronborg (2015) showed that ambivalence in conceptions towards gifted students is a cross-cultural phenomenon, as student teachers from Germany as well as Australia show ambivalent attitudes towards gifted students. In this manner, besides a high achievement and intellectual abilities, they also incorrectly associate behavioral problems with giftedness.
The psychological processes underlying these different directions of stereotyping, however, are still unknown. In this project, we want to test one possible rationale to explaining ambivalence in ratings by applying theories of justice research. People exhibit a tendency to belief in a just world in which everyone 'gets what they deserve and deserves what they get'. Research has examined individual variability in beliefs in a just world, which is therefore considered a disposition of personality with potential influence on behavior and cognitions (Lerner, 1980). Consequently, people are motivated to defend their belief in a just world when it is threatened by experienced or observed injustice. If recognized injustice seem unlikely to be resolved – as represented by the presence of students with high cognitive abilities – people might restore justice cognitively by re-evaluating the situation in line with their belief in a just world. Thus, we aim to assess and explain teacher attitudes towards and beliefs about gifted students, suggesting an influence of inter-individual differences in justice-related concepts. The main hypothesis, therefore, assumes that ambivalent attitudes are due to beliefs in a just world.
Allen, M. W., Ng, S. G., & Leiser, D. (2005). Adult economic model and values survey: Cross-national differences in economic beliefs. Journal of Economic Psychology, 26, 159-185. Baudson, T. G. & Preckel, F. (2013). Teachers' implicit personality theories about the gifted: An experimental approach. School Psychology Quarterly, 28(1), 37-46. Becker, G. (1978). The mad genius debate. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Dalbert, C., Montada, L. & Schmitt, M. (1987) GWAL – Allgemeine Gerechte-Welt-Skala (Review) [General belief in a Just World]. Gallagher, J. J. (1990). Editorial: The public and professional perception of the social and emotional status of gifted children. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 13, 202–211. Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world: A fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum Press. Loo, R. (2002). Belief in a just world: Support for independent just world and unjust world dimensions. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 703-711 McCoach, D. B., & Siegle, D. (2007). What predicts teachers’ attitudes toward the gifted? Gifted Child Quarterly, 51, 246–255. Mõttus, R., Allik, J., Konstabel, K., Kangro, E.-M., & Pullmann, H. (2008). Beliefs about the relationship between personality and intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 457–462. Neihart, M. (1999). The impact of giftedness on psychological well-being. What does the empirical literature say? Roeper Review, 22, 10–17. Preckel, F., Baudson, T. G., & Glock, S. (2014). Einstellungen gegenüber Hochbegabten [Attitudes Toward Gifted-Questionnaire]. Unpublished Research Instrument. University of Trier, Trier. Preckel, F., Matheis, S. & Kronborg, L. (2015). Student Teachers’ Attitudes and Beliefs about the Gifted: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Study. Presented at the 2015 Word Conference – World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, August 2015, Odense, Denmark. Preckel, F., & Vock, M. (2012). Hochbegabung: Ein Lehrbuch zu Grundlagen, Diagnostik und Fördermöglichkeiten [Giftedness: basics, diagnostic and fostering]. Göttingen: Hogrefe. Rost, D. H. (1993). Persönlichkeitsmerkmale hochbegabter Kinder [Personality characteristics of gifted children]. In D. H. Rost (Ed.), Lebensumweltanalyse hochbegabter Kinder (pp. 105–137). Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe. Rost, D. H. (Ed.). (2009). Hochbegabte und hochleistende Jugendliche [Gifted and high-achieving youth] (2nd ed.). Münster, Germany: Waxmann.
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