Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth

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The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) is a study project and was founded by Dr Julian Stanley in 1971 at the Johns Hopkins University. In 1986, it moved to Iowa State University, where it was headed by Dr Camilla Benbow until 1990, and from then on by Dr Benbow and Dr David Lubinski. In 1998, it moved again, this time to Vanderbilt University.

SMPY is the longest-running longitudinal study of gifted children in history. Subjects are identified by high scores in the SAT, perhaps the most extensively normed psychometric test in existence, which they take at or before the age of 13. There are several groups of subjects: those who score in the top 1%, the top 0.5%, and the top 0.01%. (This latter group is one in ten thousand, which makes SMPY perhaps the only reliable study of profoundly gifted youth.) Although after the first year, Stanley decided to include students with exceptional scores in either the mathematics or verbal tests, the name SMPY was retained. Extensive follow-ups were done after five, ten, twenty[1] and 35[2] years enabling Benbow, Lubinski, their students, and assistants to explore individual differences among intellectually able individuals. Their research has uncovered that the profoundly gifted have different educational needs and accomplish much more in school and work than moderately gifted. Talented males and females also have differing abilities, interests, and lifestyle preferences, although they often express similar levels of intellectual satisfaction and achieve advanced educational credentials at similar rates. The sex differences other investigators have found on the things-people dimension in normative populations have been manifested in education and work, among the adolescents Benbow, Lubinski, and their associates have studied. SMPY has found that talented individuals with marked tilts tend to pursue careers that draw upon their cognitive strengths. Highly able youth with notably stronger mathematical than verbal ability often study and work in science and engineering, whereas adolescents with better scores on the verbal section than the mathematical one frequently went into the humanities, arts, social science, or law. Individuals with comparable mathematical and verbal ability did not follow such clear-cut trajectories, although many males with the "high-flat" ability profile pursued educational and vocational pursuits in science. [3] [4]


  1. ^ "Lubinski and Benbow article on 20 year follow-up". 
  2. ^ "Lubinski article on 35 year follow-up with general history of SMPY". 
  3. ^ "article on sex differences". 
  4. ^ "Top 1 in 10,000: A 10-year follow-up of the profoundly gifted". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bock, Gregory; Ackrill, Kate, eds. (1993). The Origins and Development of High Ability. Ciba Foundation Symposium 178. Chichester: Wiley. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-470-51450-4. Lay summary (28 July 2010). 
  • Heller, Kurt A.; Mönks, Franz J.; Sternberg, Robert J.; Subotnik, Rena F., eds. (2000). International Handbook of Giftedness and Talent (2nd ed.). Amsterdam: Pergamon. p. 318. ISBN 978-0-08-043796-5. Lay summary (6 October 2013). 
  • Hunt, Earl (2011). Human Intelligence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 346. ISBN 978-0-521-70781-7. Lay summary (28 April 2013). 

External links[edit]

Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth website