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David Lubinski - Vanderbilt University. Nashville, TN, US

David Lubinski David Lubinski

Professor of Psychology and Human Development; Co-Director, Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY); Investigator, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development | Vanderbilt University


An expert who co-leads the foremost longitudinal study of gifted individuals in the world.



David Lubinski Publication David Lubinski Publication




ISIR 2015  Lifetime interview with Robert Plomin & David Lubinski



David Lubinski's interests are concentrated on psychological measurement and assessing individual differences in human behavior, focusing on the identification of different types of intellectually precocious youth and the conditions for enhancing their learning, work performance, and creativity. With Camilla Benbow, he co-directs the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), a longitudinal study of more than 5,000 intellectually talented participants, initially identified before age 13.

Areas of Expertise (9)


Gifted Learners

Gifted Children



Psychological Measurement

Differences in Human Behavior

Gifted Education Programs

Mathematical Giftedness

Accomplishments (5)

International Society for Intelligence Research, Lifetime Achievement Award: (professional)

For Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Intelligence

Lifetime Achievement Award (professional)

American Mensa Foundation

Distinguished Scholar Award (professional)

National Association for Gifted Children

APA George A. Miller Award - Division I (professional)

Outstanding Article in General Psychology

AERA Pathbreaker Award (professional)

For Research on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent

Education (2)

University of Minnesota: Ph.D.

University of Minnesota: B.A.

Affiliations (3)

  • Member, American Educational Research Association
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science
  • Fellow, American Psychological Association

Selected Media Appearances (6)

Opinion | We Are Leaving ‘Lost Einsteins’ Behind

New York Times  online


“Current talent search procedures focus on the assessment of mathematical and verbal ability,” wrote David Lubinski of Vanderbilt and Harrison J. Kell, a senior researcher at the Educational Testing Service, in “Spatial Ability: A Neglected Talent in Educational and Occupational Settings.” Lubinski and Kell stress the failure of many of such searches to test for the cognitive skill known as spatial ability.

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The great ‘gifted’ gap

USA Today  print


Because there’s no federal standard for identifying giftedness, states and districts come up with their own definitions – which is one reason researchers don’t have a clear answer on the benefits of gifted education. Some say highly talented children can reach their full potential only if they’re educated alongside other highachieving students. “It’s good for kids to be with their intellectual peers,” said David Lubinski, a psychology professor at Vanderbilt University and a longtime expert on gifted education.

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Will Bright Kids Succeed Even if Not Challenged Enough?

Psychology Today  online


Gifted individuals, overall, end up as psychologically well-adjusted. A century of research on gifted kids shows that these kids end up academically and occupationally successful, as indicated by the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth led by Camilla Benbow and David Lubinski.

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Is your child gifted? An IQ test is not the only marker of talent

Indian Express  online


One of the history’s longest-running studies of gifted students, led by husband-wife duo David Lubinski and Camilla Benbow, has confirmed this. Originally titled the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), the research claims that many of the modern innovators were identified and supported in their early years through talent enrichment programmes.

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Want Your Child to Be a High Achiever? This 47-Year Study Reveals 7 Things You Can Do

Thrive Global  online


Researchers Camilla P. Benbow and David Lubinski of Vanderbilt University are carrying on a study that was started in 1971 by Julian Stanley at Johns Hopkins University. It’s called the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), which is a misnomer, as it also takes into account a child’s verbal skills and spatial skills (the capacity to understand and remember spatial relationships between objects–key in engineering, architecture, and surgery).

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4 ways parents can help children reach their full potential

Global News  online


“I’m still shocked by the number of parents who tell their kids what to major in … what courses to take,” said psychologist David Lubinski, the project’s co-director.

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Selected Articles (5)

Psychological constellations assessed at age 13 predict distinct forms of eminence 35 years later

Psychological Science

Brian O Bernstein, David Lubinski, Camilla P Benbow

2019 This investigation examined whether math/scientific and verbal/humanistic ability and preference constellations, developed on intellectually talented 13-year-olds to predict their educational outcomes at age 23, continue to maintain their longitudinal potency by distinguishing distinct forms of eminence 35 years later.

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A genome-wide association study for extremely high intelligence

Molecular Psychiatry

D Zabaneh, E Krapohl, HA Gaspar, C Curtis, SH Lee, H Patel, S Newhouse, HM Wu, MA Simpson, M Putallaz, D Lubinski, R Plomin, G Breen

2019 We used a case–control genome-wide association (GWA) design with cases consisting of 1238 individuals from the top 0.0003 (~170 mean IQ) of the population distribution of intelligence and 8172 unselected population-based controls. The single-nucleotide polymorphism heritability for the extreme IQ trait was 0.33 (0.02), which is the highest so far for a cognitive phenotype, and significant genome-wide genetic correlations of 0.78 were observed with educational attainment and 0.86 with population IQ.

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Who shines most among the brightest?: A 25-year longitudinal study of elite STEM graduate students.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Kira O McCabe, David Lubinski, Camilla P Benbow

2019 In 1992, the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) surveyed 714 first- and second-year graduate students (48.5% female) attending U.S. universities ranked in the top-15 by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field. This study investigated whether individual differences assessed early in their graduate school career were associated with becoming a STEM leader 25 years later (e.g., STEM full professors at research-intensive universities, STEM CEOs, and STEM leaders in government) versus not becoming a STEM leader.

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Fine mapping genetic associations between the HLA region and extremely high intelligence

Scientific Reports

Delilah Zabaneh, Eva Krapohl, Michael A Simpson, Mike B Miller, William G Iacono, Matt McGue, Martha Putallaz, David Lubinski, Robert Plomin, Gerome Breen

2017 General cognitive ability (intelligence) is one of the most heritable behavioural traits and most predictive of socially important outcomes and health. We hypothesized that some of the missing heritability of IQ might lie hidden in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region, which plays a critical role in many diseases and traits but is not well tagged in conventional GWAS. Using a uniquely powered design, we investigated whether fine-mapping of the HLA region could narrow the missing heritability gap.

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From Terman to today: A century of findings on intellectual precocity

Review of Educational Research

David Lubinski

2016 One hundred years of research (1916–2016) on intellectually precocious youth is reviewed, painting a portrait of an extraordinary source of human capital and the kinds of learning opportunities needed to facilitate exceptional accomplishments, life satisfaction, and positive growth.

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