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With talent or talent , one aspect is referred to, which contributes to a special performance of a person in a particular field. In contrast to the knowledge acquired and skills acquired through practice, talent is a person's special ability to make progress comparatively quickly in the relevant field and to be able to achieve an above-average level of performance.

A talent is often seen as an innate potential and exists regardless of whether it has already manifested itself through special performance. If a person has several individual talents or talents in different areas, this is also referred to as “multiple talents”.

Origin of the word talent

The word talent , like mhd. Gābe, belongs to the common. Verb mhd. Give , ahd. Geban , which goes back to the idg. Root ghabh- "grasp, grasp".

Origin of the word talent

The word talent in the sense of endowment has its origin in the ancient oriental mass unit talent , which is also used in the Bible to denote a corresponding amount of silver coins. In the New Testament parable of the entrusted talents ( Mt 25,14-30  EU ) three servants are entrusted five, two or only one “τἀλαντον” - “each according to his own ability (strength)”. Luther and Zwingli still translated Talent with hundredweight . But the Latin Vulgate , translated by talentum , can be used to trace the word talent in the sense of talent in English since the 16th century and in French since the 17th century. In this detour it got its meaning in German as well.

General to the discussion about talent

There are talents in the various areas of knowledge and skills that can relate, for example, to intellectual, artistic or athletic abilities. In the meantime (2012) genetic research has identified at least 52 different genes (or gene mutations) that have an impact on various factors in athletic performance. The concept of general talent often unilaterally emphasizes the aspect of abstract academic intelligence ; Motivational and personal aspects also flow into the general concept of talent. In contrast to professional talent, practical intelligence is limited to the active handling of concrete objects. While until 1990 in the GDR the attention was directed towards particularly talented people, in the FRG the point of view was primarily towards the academically talented. Talent is the subject of research in various scientific subjects. In September 2012, the University of Münster organized the largest ever congress on talent research.

Cognitive gifts

Music, language, entertainment

Movement coordination

Organizational talent

Talent always presupposes a genetic component. Specific performance-enhancing personality factors, family, school and social framework conditions are just as essential (cf. Heid / Fink 2004). This includes parental home , school and all other factors of education and the environment , without which no high performance is possible. Studies show that in highly gifted people, increased brain activity can be measured in the corresponding area. In addition, certain brain regions are (slightly) more pronounced than the average. This expression develops primarily through the early promotion or stimulation of certain abilities and thus the corresponding brain regions.

Exceptions are, of course, talents that can be traced back to special physical characteristics. So the talent of a singer depends primarily on his voice, i. H. with the anatomy of its vocal organ.

The fact that talent is genetically determined has often been denied. So was z. For example, the music pedagogue Shinichi Suzuki is a radical opponent of the view that musical talent (also: top talent) has some other cause than early ear training and daily intensive practice. Suzuki has repeatedly argued that talent research is not carried out on newborns, but on children who have received or have not received musical stimulation and support for years. (see Early Childhood Education , Early Childhood Development )

Talent expresses itself through a relatively early specific response to a certain material, a certain task, a certain thing. The gifted person also feels a tendency to be interested in this material etc. (cf. Roth 67, 24–33). In the case of talent, there is also a pleasurable ease in dealing with the mastery of this material, etc. A talented person can certainly sacrifice himself for his material, as he has an increased need to experience more in his field. In addition, the gifted person is constantly dissatisfied with the level of performance already achieved, which increases the willingness to exert themselves in this area. Scientists refer to it as “productive dissatisfaction”. Growing self-confidence is a further indicator of talent, since a talented person (= gifted person) knows how well he has mastered his subject, task, thing ... Ultimately, this leads to the fact that a gifted person trusts his above-average abilities. A gifted singer z. B. would rather dare to perform in front of an audience than a person who is not gifted at singing. Talent favors independent and / or creative productivity. The gifted creates something new (sometimes ingenious ).

Genetic requirements in sport

In addition to the obvious genetic prerequisites (e.g. body size in basketball ), at least 52 different genes have now been identified in at least 94 studies that are decisive for individual prerequisites for athletic performance. In Australia z. For example, top athletes are not promoted in a performance squad if they do not have the right genetic prerequisites (= development potential) for this sport / discipline. For strength / speed strength there are z. B. ACE, ACTN3 and AGT, which favor the development. Even in endurance sports that require a lot of training. As the most important requirement, seven genes have now been identified that distinguish top athletes from others.

Talent in music

Children who have already learned to play an instrument at the age of three are much more likely to have perfect pitch . Elisabeth Theusch found a connection between perfect pitch and certain chromosomes.

Multiple and gifted

An all-rounder (multiple talent) is someone who has interests and talents in different areas. That can be B. be simultaneous talents in the artistic and mathematical field. A well-known example from history is Leonardo da Vinci . Giftedness is a far above average talent of a person.

Theories of the cause of a talent

The question arises to what extent talent and abilities are genetically predisposed (exceptions: “anatomically talented”) or were acquired through learning and practicing. A person who claims to have two left hands (works, art ...) could have been persuaded to do so


Constructive character of the concept of talent

Critics of the concept of talent emphasize that, in contrast to physical or mental performance, which can be observed, talent is a construct that is used to explain observed performance. In the sense of this criticism, talent is not something that can be observed and that exists empirically, but something with which one interprets, interprets and explains what is observed. According to this criticism, the problem of viewing this conceptual construction as reality is presented in such a way that observable performance can be confused with a presumed “ disposition ” if performance is viewed as the expression or evidence of talents. The result is a “circular figure of thought” in which performance is inferred from talent, but this should serve as a reason for performance, although only one of the two, namely performance, can be measured objectively.

This criticism does not deny the fact that there are different achievements, but it doubts the scientific and social usefulness and appropriateness of the concept of talent and the like. a. with reference to the fact that it has not yet been possible to empirically verify “talent” independently of observable performance. With intelligence tests only parts of human capabilities would be recognized and these correspond to the respective "advanced technical level of development".

Talent is not a scientifically viable term, but a political slogan. The use of the talent concept is therefore less popular at times when it is a matter of tapping additional social educational reserves. The talent concept is booming when it comes to restricting the number of people to be sponsored or distributing the funding among certain groups (e.g. elite versus mass universities or grammar schools versus comprehensive or secondary schools) - for example because of socially scarce resources.

Assumption of the presence of talents

The constructive nature of the concept of talent becomes clear in those cases in which the existence of talent is assumed a priori without examination in individual cases. So z. B. People who are not able to successfully pass theoretical exams as a prerequisite for a school leaving certificate or vocational qualification are generally referred to as "gifted in practice". In Hesse, schools where children and young people with severe intellectual disabilities are taught have been referred to as “schools for the practically educable ” since 1962 . Since the term “person with special talent” is also used as a euphemistic description for “person with an intellectual disability”, some authors consider it necessary to expressly point out that they mean highly talented people by the term “particularly talented”.

The federal legislature in Germany indicates that, in its opinion, there are people who do not have economically exploitable minimal talents. On the basis of Section 136, Paragraph 2 of Book IX of the Social Code, a workshop for disabled people may refuse to accept people into the workshop if they do not “at the latest after participating in measures in the field of vocational training do at least a minimum of economically usable work”.

See also


  • Peter Drewek: The research on talent of Albert Huth and Karl Valentin Müller after 1945. On the scientific-historical significance of the conservative concept of talent in the post-war period. In: Journal for Pedagogy. 35, 1989, pp. 198-217.
  • Helmut Heid , Gabi Fink: Talent. In: Dietrich Benner , Jürgen Oelkers (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of pedagogy. Weinheim / Basel 2004, pp. 146–152.
  • Herbert Hopfgartner: How do I, as a teacher, recognize musical talent? In: News & Science - Promotion of gifted students and research on gifted students. ÖZBF, No. 28, Salzburg 2011, ( ISSN  1992-8823 ), pp. 10-13.
  • Timo Hoyer and others: Talent. An introduction . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2013.
  • Georg Klaus : Unrecovered treasures. Epistemological aspects of the so-called gifted theory. In: Sunday. No. 20, 1963, pp. 4-5.
  • More Markard : The concept of (gifted) talent - functional criticism of an educational-political tendency concept. (on-line)
  • Rosemarie Portmann: Basic Discussion III: The Secret of Talent. Attachment or learning outcome? In: Dieter Haarmann (ed.): Primary school manual. Volume 1, Weinheim 1991, pp. 161-170.
  • Heinrich Roth : Talent and Talent. In: T. Ballauff, H. Hettner (Hrsg.): Talent promotion and school. Darmstadt 1967, pp. 18-36.
  • Axel Schenz: Talent from an educational theory perspective. 2007.
  • Axel Schenz: upbringing and talent as socially determined processes. In: Christina Schenz, Stephan Rosebrock, Marianne Soff (Hrsg.): From the promotion of talented students to the creation of talented students. About the creative handling of talents in mathematics . Vienna 2011, pp. 34–44.
  • Fritz Süllwold (ed.): Talent and achievement . Hoffman and Campe, Hamburg 1976.

Web links

Wiktionary: Talent  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Talent  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Talent  - Quotes


  1. ^ The dictionary of origin (=  Der Duden in twelve volumes . Volume 7 ). Reprint of the 2nd edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim 1997 ( p. 221 ). See also DWDS ( “talent” , “give” ) and Friedrich Kluge : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 7th edition. Trübner, Strasbourg 1910 ( pp. 162 , 155 ).
  2. Ulrich Luz: The Gospel according to Matthew. 3rd subband. Mt 18-25. Evangelical-Catholic Commentary on the New Testament (EKK) I / 3. Einsiedeln / Neukirchen-Vluyn 1997, p. 506 FN 76.
  3. M. Swan: Applied genomics: personalized interpretation of athletic performance genetic association data for sports performance capability and injury reduction. In: The Journal of Bioscience and Medicine. Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 1-10. doi: 10.5780 / jbm2012.2
  4. bibb.de
  5. Giftedness across the lifespan , echa2012.info
  6. Shinichi Suzuki: Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education. Alfred Publishing Company, 1986, ISBN 0-87487-584-6 .
  7. Arnd Krüger : Talent selection. In: competitive sport. 43 (5), 2013, pp. 41-42.
  8. M. Svan: Applied genomics: personalized interpretation of athletic performance genetic association data for sports performance capability and injury reduction. In: J Biosci & Med. 2 (1), 2012, pp. 1-10.
  9. 90% of more than 1,000 professional musicians questioned who began to make music at this age have perfect pitch, while only 42% of those who only started to make music at primary school age have perfect pitch. (D. Sergeant, S. Roche: Perceptual Shifts in the Auditory Information Processing of Young Children. In: Psychology of Music I. o. O., 1973, pp. 39-48. Quoted from: KE Behne, E. Kötter, R. Meißner: Talent - Learning - Development. In: C. Dahlhaus, H. de la Motte-Haber (Ed.): New Handbook of Musicology. Volume 10: Systematic Musicology. Wiesbaden 1982, p. 290.)
  10. E. Theusch include: Genome-wide Study of Families with Absolute Pitch Reveals Linkage to 8q24.21 and Locus Heterogeneity. In: American Journal of Human Genetics. 2009. doi : 10.1016 / j.ajhg.2009.06.010
  11. Theodor W. Adorno in Article IQ (No. 126) of his Minima Moralia (written 1946/47; published 1951).
  12. Torsten Bultmann: The elites and the masses. Critique of an educational stereotype. bdwi.de, accessed on August 24, 2011 .
  13. z. B. Klaus K. Urban: Special talents in school. In: Examples. 14, H. 1, 1996, pp. 21-27. (on-line)