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Jonathan Wai, Ph.D.
Jonathan Wai, Ph.D., is a research scientist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program and a visiting researcher at Case Western Reserve University. He did his postdoctoral work at Duke University, holds a doctorate from Vanderbilt University, and graduated from Claremont McKenna College.
He researches and writes about the development of talent, broadly conceived, and its impact on society. His interests focus on the role of cognitive abilities, education, and other factors that contribute to the development of expertise in education, occupation, and innovation. Additionally, he is interested in policy implications of developing (or failing to develop) talent, and connecting his work with the larger global conversation.
Dr. Wai's work has started international conversations, and has been covered in Science, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CNBC, Financial Times, The Economist, Scientific American, Wired, Education Week, and newspapers all over the world. In addition to academic publications, his public writing has appeared in Psychology Today, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Education Week, NPR, and many others. He is a contributing writer to Psychology Today, Business Insider, Quartz, and others, where his ideas have reached millions of people.
His work has won multiple international Mensa Awards for Research Excellence. He currently serves on the board of directors of the MATHCOUNTS Foundation. He lives with his wife, son, dog, and two cats. You can find his CV here.
Representative Academic Articles
Wai, J. (in press). What does it mean to be an expert? Intelligence. [For special issue, Acquiring expertise: Ability, practice, and other influences].
Wai, J. (in press). Experts are born, then made: Combining prospective and retrospective longitudinal data shows that cognitive ability matters. Intelligence. [For special issue, Acquiring expertise: Ability, practice, and other influences].
Wai, J. (2013). Investigating America’s elite: Cognitive ability, education, and sex differences. Intelligence, 41, 203-211.
Wai, J., Putallaz, M., & Makel, M. C. (2012). Studying intellectual outliers: Are there sex differences, and are the smart getting smarter? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 382-390.
Wai, J., & Putallaz, M. (2011). The Flynn effect puzzle: A 30-year examination from the right tail of the ability distribution provides some missing pieces. Intelligence, 39, 443-455.
Wai, J., Cacchio, M., Putallaz, M., & Makel, M. C. (2010). Sex differences in the right tail of cognitive abilities: A 30-year examination. Intelligence, 38, 412-423.
Wai, J., Lubinski, D., Benbow, C. P., & Steiger, J. H. (2010). Accomplishment in science technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and its relation to STEM educational dose: A 25-year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 860-871.
Wai, J., Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2009). Spatial ability for STEM domains: Aligning over fifty years of cumulative psychological knowledge solidifies its importance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 817-835.
Halpern, D. F., & Wai, J. (2007). The world of competitive Scrabble: Novice and expert differences in visuospatial and verbal abilities. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 13, 79-94.
Wai, J., Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2005). Creativity and occupational accomplishments among intellectually precocious youths: An age 13 to age 33 longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 484-492.
Representative Articles/Op-eds For The Public Press
March, 2014: One Size Does Not Fit All: The Need For Variety In Learning – NPR Mindshift
March, 2014: Hire Like Google? For Most Companies, That's A Bad Idea – Los Angeles Times (with Christopher Chabris)
February, 2014: 8 Simple Strategies To Improve Your Innovation – Business Insider, Psychology Today
January, 2014: The Best Business Schools Based On GMAT Scores – Quartz
January, 2014: Here Are 97 Books, Articles, And Movies That Will Make You Smarter – Business Insider, Psychology Today
January, 2014: Even As A Child, Jeff Bezos Was A Data-Obsessed, Workaholic Genius – Quartz
November, 2013: Nine Ways To Become Smarter Than You Think – Psychology Today, Business Insider
November, 2013: Who's Smarter? Republicans And Democrats In Congress – Psychology Today
July, 2013: Why We Need To Value Students’ Spatial Creativity – NPR Mindshift, Quartz
June, 2013: The Art Of Communicating Science - Psychology Today
February, 2013: Why We Need The Math Police – Education Week (with Lou DiGioia)
February, 2013: Jack Andraka Is Not An Ordinary Kid - Psychology Today
February, 2013: Do Gifted Kids Want To Be A Scientific Genius Today? - Psychology Today
December, 2012: How Khan Academy Will Help Find The Next Einstein - Psychology Today
November, 2012: The US Needs To Focus Its Educational Efforts On Talented Americans - TechCrunch
October, 2012: Smart People Really Do Rule The World – Business Insider
October, 2012: Don’t Believe The Myth Of The Billionaire College Dropout – Business Insider
September, 2012: The Scary Smart Are The Scary Rich – Forbes
July, 2012: Of Brainiacs And Billionaires – Psychology Today
June, 2012: Chess Concepts Peter Thiel Used To Become A Billionaire – Business Insider, Inc., Yahoo!
June, 2012: Why The Smartest People Talk The Least – Business Insider
March, 2012: Why Is It Socially Acceptable To Be Bad At Math? – Psychology Today
February, 2012: Could Brain Imaging Replace The SAT? – Psychology Today
November, 2011: Sorry Talented, Striving Matters – Psychology Today
August, 2011: How Brainy Is Your Major? – Psychology Today
June, 2011: How Do You Measure An Intellectual Giant? – Psychology Today
April, 2011: If You Are Creative, Are You Also Intelligent? – Psychology Today
March, 2011: America’s Got Talent – Psychology Today
March, 2011: Will We Ever Find The Next Einstein? – Psychology Today
December 2013: We Are Not As Smart As We Think: Tyler Cowen – Psychology Today
November, 2013: Does Technology Make Us Smarter?: Clive Thompson – Psychology Today
September, 2013: The Geography of Creativity: Enrico Moretti – Psychology Today
September, 2013: The Sports Gene: David Epstein – Psychology Today
February, 2013: How To Live A Meaningful Life: Marty Nemko – Psychology Today
December, 2012: Khan Academy And The Next Einstein: Sal Khan – Psychology Today
October, 2012: Talent In Education And Business: Norman Augustine – Business Insider
August, 2012: Finding The Next Carl Sagan: Adam Frank – Psychology Today
June, 2012: Science Writing Can Save Lives: Tim Folger – Psychology Today
January, 2012: The Educational World Is Flat: Tom Vander Ark – Psychology Today
December, 2011: A Polymath Physicist: Steve Hsu – Psychology Today
June, 2011: The Magic of Great Literature: James Flynn – Psychology Today
Contact Jonathan Wai, Ph.D.
Finding the Next Einstein: Why Smart is Relative discusses research findings and ideas that touch upon multiple issues surrounding the identification and development of talent, and explores how these issues might be relevant to what's going on in the world.
Research Papers by Jonathan Wai, Ph.D.