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See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: Multiple Giftedness in Adults: The Case of Polymaths Chapter · January 2009 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-6162-2_42 CITATIONS 3 READS 5,671 1 author: Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Vaccination Markers View project Autoimmunity View project Robert Root-Bernstein Michigan State University 227 PUBLICATIONS 2,867 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by Robert Root-Bernstein on 23 May 2014. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.
Book Shavinina 9781402061615 Proof2 December 2, 2008 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 Chapter 42 Multiple Giftedness in Adults: The Case of Polymaths Robert Root-Bernstein Abstract Creativity researchers often assert that spe- cialization is a requirement for adult success, that skills and knowledge do not transfer across domains, and that 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 specialization thesis. This chapter challenges all three legs of the specialization thesis. It describes individuals who have made major contributions to multiple domains; reviews prior literature demonstrating polymathy among cre- ative adults; and presents data from an ongoing study of literature, science, and Nobel laureates in economics that confirms this creativity–polymathy connection. Keywords Polymathy · Polymaths · Creativity · Spe- cialization thesis · Domain dependence of creativity · General creativity · Multiple domains · Creative adults Introduction Whether 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 field is whether people are generally creative or specifi- cally creative. Many psychologists assert that individ- uals can contribute to only one specialized profession or domain (Carey & Spelke, 1994; Feist, 2005; Gard- R. Root-Bernstein ( B ) Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA ner, 1983; Gardner, 1999; Karmiloff-Smith, 1992). The reasons specialization is thought to be required are diverse. Some psychologists suggest that the detailed knowledge and skills that must be acquired to con- tribute creatively to a discipline are too great for any individual to master more than one set in a lifetime. Others propose that non-overlapping and cognitively different types of intelligence are required to excel in different fields of endeavor and the likelihood of inher- iting or developing multiple types of intelligences to the level necessary to be creative is vanishingly small.

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