Sociocultural concept of high ability and heart-mind epistemology in Confucian societies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This theoretical paper begins with a reflection on the dominant conceptions of ‘high ability’, based on psychometrics, and examines claims that the ethos of a particular cultural heritage is essential to what ‘high ability’ signifies. The article semantically distinguishes ‘giftedness’ from ‘ability’, using research on Confucian heritage culture with its thick and thin dimensions. ‘Giftedness’ here means an inherited quality or endowment. ‘Ability’, on the other hand, signifies an active process open to nurture through education and – what could account for the main contribution of this paper – the role played by an ‘epistemology of heart-mind’ in Confucian heritage. The article argues that this epistemology of heart-mind constitutes a generational collective programming of mind. Such a definition could lead to a sociocultural conception of intelligence and giftedness open to development, adding a new perspective to the conceptualisation of giftedness and high ability. Copyright © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-392
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Issue number4
Early online dateAug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017



Park, J. (2017). Sociocultural concept of high ability and heart-mind epistemology in Confucian societies. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 26(4), 375-392. doi: 10.1080/09620214.2016.1187078


  • Confucian heritage
  • Epistemology of heart-mind
  • High ability
  • Sociocultural concept