American Psychological Foundation

Many people believe that gifted students have the upper hand in social and academic life. New research by APF grantee Kristen Peairs, PhD, however, suggests that may not be the case.

Peairs received APF's Esther Katz Rosen Fellowship in 2009 to complete her dissertation on the peer relations of gifted adolescents. Her research indicates that the negative effects of being socially rejected were more pronounced for gifted students, who were also more victimized than non-gifted students in her sample. Not only were the gifted students actively disliked and harassed by other students, but they also were isolated and had few friends.

Peairs's results are the foundation she needed to develop prevention and intervention programs to address such social problems among gifted adolescents.

"Receiving the Esther Katz Rosen Fellowship has made a significant and tangible impact on my career," says Peairs. Not only did she earn first place for her dissertation work from the National Association for Gifted Children, but her research led to her position as a postdoctoral research associate at Duke University's Talent Identification Program, where she continues to study the social and emotional development of gifted youth. Peairs also delivered four presentations on her research at national conferences, and published an article in Gifted Child Quarterly that became one of the 50 most-read articles in that journal.

This exposure "has collectively increased my competitiveness for academic faculty positions that I wish to pursue in the future," Peairs says.