Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Westefeld, John S

Second Advisor

Assouline, Susan G

First Committee Member

Colangelo, Nicholas

Second Committee Member

Nicpon, Megan Foley

Third Committee Member

Ho, Andrew


The present study examined the impact of recognition on a group of talent award winners, including attributions for success and the consequences of these attributions for continued engagement in the talent field. Participants were winners of the Davidson Fellows Scholarship, which recognizes students under the age of 18 who have completed a significant piece of original work in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, music, literature, or philosophy. The study used survey data collected from Davidson Fellows who received an award between 2001-2007. Descriptive statistics revealed that the majority of participants (70.5%) were still clearly engaged in the field in which they received the award. Participants in the fields of science, math, and technology showed more evidence of continued engagement than participants in the fields of music, literature, or philosophy. Females were found to have higher rates of continued engagement than males.

The constant comparative method was used to qualitatively examine participants' responses to open-ended questions regarding the perceived impact of the award on their personal, academic, artistic, and professional lives. The qualitative analysis revealed 12 distinct categories of impact: Financial Support, Opened Doors, Personal Satisfaction, Validation, Recognition by Others, Reinforcement/Encouragement, Increased Confidence, Increased Pressure/Responsibility, Meaningful Connections, Process Gains, Miscellaneous, and Little to No Impact. These categories indicated receiving a Davidson Fellows Scholarship had a positive impact on participants across a variety of life domains.

Attributions of success related to winning the award were measured with regard to the extent to which participants endorsed stable, internal attributions (i.e., aptitude) and unstable, external attributions (i.e., resources). Overall, male and female participants did not differ significantly in their endorsement of aptitude-based or resource-based attributions of success. However, among participants in the fields of science, math, and technology, males had significantly stronger endorsement aptitude-based attributions, while females had significantly stronger resource-based attributions. Despite these differences, these attributional patterns did not predict continued engagement in these fields. However, among participants in the fields of music, literature, and philosophy, aptitude- and resource-based attributions predicted 22% of the variance in continued engagement. In the overall sample, attributions of success did not predict continued engagement. Finally, no significant group differences were found with regard to attributions of success across all talent domains.


attributions of success, continued engagement, gifted and talented, recognition, talent award


vii, 85 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 77-80).


Copyright 2010 Samuel Shepard