24. Exceptional Talent and Genius

  1. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic2,
  2. Sophie von Stumm3 and
  3. Adrian Furnham4
  1. Dean Keith Simonton

Published Online: 12 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444343120.ch24

The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Individual Differences

The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Individual Differences

How to Cite

Simonton, D. K. (2011) Exceptional Talent and Genius, in The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Individual Differences (eds T. Chamorro-Premuzic, S. von Stumm and A. Furnham), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444343120.ch24

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

  2. 3

    University of Chichester, UK

  3. 4

    University College London, UK

Author Information

  1. University of California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 12 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 APR 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334388

Online ISBN: 9781444343120



  • competence beyond IQ - special abilities, exceptional talent and genius;
  • Galton's Hereditary genius - taken as the first scientific study of genius - Galton's mind, genius and talent intimately related concepts;
  • “Genius does what it must, and Talent does what it can” (Owen Meredith) and “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle); and “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see”;
  • word “genius” actually going back to antiquity - derived from Latin, in Roman mythology, each person being born with a guardian spirit, called genius-superlative intelligence and extraordinary achievement;
  • superlative intelligence, one recognized definition of genius - relating to a person's intelligence quotient, or IQ score, of 140 or above, minimum threshold for ascription;
  • Galton, believing individuals - differed in “natural ability,” that these individual differences, being distributed in general population;
  • Galton, relying on indirect measure - eminence or reputation, those at the tail end of distribution, a name for themselves in some domain of human achievement;
  • Galton, and eligible domains - three distinct categories, exceptional creativity, phenomenal leadership and prodigious accomplishments;
  • psychometric versus historiometric methods;
  • situational factors, critical than individual factors - determining when and where exceptional talent becomes exceptional genius


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

  • Genius versus Talent

  • Psychometric versus Historiometric Methods

  • Generic versus Domain-Specific Profiles

  • Nature versus Nurture

  • Individual versus Situation

  • References