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BookShavinina9781402061615Proof2December 2, 200801020304050607080910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031323334353637383940414243444546474849Chapter 42Multiple Giftedness in Adults: The Case of PolymathsRobert Root-BernsteinAbstractCreativity researchers often assert that spe-cialization is a requirement for adult success, that skillsand knowledge do not transfer across domains, andthat the domain dependence of creativity makes gen-eral creativity impossible. The supposed absence of in-dividuals who have made major contributions to mul-tiple domains supposedly supports the specializationthesis. This chapter challenges all three legs of thespecialization thesis. It describes individuals who havemade major contributions to multiple domains; reviewsprior literature demonstrating polymathy among cre-ative adults; and presents data from an ongoing studyof literature, science, and Nobel laureates in economicsthat confirms this creativity–polymathy connection.KeywordsPolymathy·Polymaths·Creativity·Spe-cialization thesis·Domain dependence of creativity·General creativity·Multiple domains·Creative adultsIntroductionWhether gifted adults are generally or particularly cre-ative and what the relationship of polymathy to gifted-ness may be are contentious issues for cognitive psy-chologists (Amabile, 1996; Gardner, 1993; Baer, 1998;Sternberg, Grigorenko, & Singer, 2004; Kaufman &Baer, 2005). The main issue being debated in the fieldis whether people are generally creative or specifi-cally creative. Many psychologists assert that individ-uals can contribute to only one specialized professionor domain (Carey & Spelke, 1994; Feist, 2005; Gard-R. Root-Bernstein (B)Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USAner, 1983; Gardner, 1999; Karmiloff-Smith, 1992). Thereasons specialization is thought to be required arediverse. Some psychologists suggest that the detailedknowledge and skills that must be acquired to con-tribute creatively to a discipline are too great for anyindividual to master more than one set in a lifetime.Others propose that non-overlapping and cognitivelydifferent types of intelligence are required to excel indifferent fields of endeavor and the likelihood of inher-iting or developing multiple types of intelligences tothe level necessary to be creative is vanishingly small.