Sat 20.09.2014 - 09:00-10:00 - Plečnik 1-2-3

Do Contests and Competition Enrich or Ruin the Life of the Gifted?  Paper  Video

Presenter: Márta Fülöp

While contests and competitive activities are significantly present in most of the gifted people’s life, their outstanding achievements are recognized many times in contests, the research results are contradictory in terms of the role that competitiveness, competing and participating in contests play in their personal and professional life. According to many competitions can serve to provide learning opportunities and interact with peers of similar abilities, ways to demonstrate creative skills, foster friendly rivalry, gain prestigious sholarships etc. At the same time there is a notion that competing causes stress, anxiety, exhaustion, places too much responslibility on the gifted person etc.

The present talk will discuss the individual psychological components of successful and adaptive coping with competitive experiences, with winning and losing in case of the gifted. It will be based on the results of a large scale study that compared regular and successful participants i.e. winners of academic contests with peers who did not participate in contests or who were not particularly successful. Attitudes towards competition, coping patterns towards winning and losing, mental toughness, resilience, positive life orientation, aspirations and perfectionism were all investigated in case of contestants and those who rather avoid competitions. An in-depth interview study aimed at revealing how gifted contestants perceive the role of contests in shaping their character, professional choices and professional lifecourse. The talk makes an attempt to give an evidence based answer to the question posed in the title and will present those psychological conditions that mediate between competitions and their effect on gifted people’s life.

Because of the digital age competition is more and globalized and apart from international contests young people who have similar interest and talent are able to get into contact with each other via the web. They can compare themselves to peers from almost any country in the world. This on one hand may be overwhelming, on the other hand may be a way to learn about strengths and weaknesses on a way much larger scale than before. As a result of this  winning and losing may be placed into a different perspective in the future.