Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Alvin G. Burstein

Committee Members

Wesley Morgan, Kenneth Newton, Michael J. Patton


The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the existence of different character styles among intellectually gifted people. Two groups of students at the University of Tennessee, Honors students in Physics and Chemistry and students in the College Scholars program, were studied in order to demonstrate that the difference in personality dynamics among intellectually gifted individuals goes beyond 1Q level. Loevinger's Washington University Sentence Completion Test of ego development was used as a measure of overall character style. The Rorschach was administered to glean further information about the personalities of the participants, and to investigate the nature of its relationship to the Sentence Completion Test (WUSC).

Significant differences between group means on ego development level were found, with the College Scholars scoring higher. One source of these differences appeared to be the presence of extreme cases, low for the Honors and high for the Scholars. These were examined in more detail. What appears to be of primary distinction between the two groups has to do with minimal level of ego development necessary for success in the two groups. The minimal level for College Scholars is the national modal level, 1-3/4, Self-Aware, while the minimum level for the Honors may be lower. The single Rorschach variable which significantly correlated with ego development level, but accounted for only a minimal amount of the variance, was Imaginal Aspect usage, suggesting that persons at the lower levels of ego development may have their internal reactions more easily stimulated by external stimuli. The lack of other significant correlations between the scoring variables studied suggests that the two instruments measure different aspects of the person despite overlap in their operational definitions.

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