American Educational Psychologist



  • Johns Hopkins University, BA with honors in Psychology (1977); MA in Psychology (1978); MS in Education (1980); Ed.D. in Gifted Education with Distinction (1981)


  • Associate Research Scientist, Department of Psychology, Johns Hopkins University (1981-1986)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology (part-time), Johns Hopkins University (1983-1986)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Iowa State University (1985-1990); Professor (1990-1995); Distinguished Professor (1995-1998); Chair (1992-1998)
  • Interim Dean, College of Education, Iowa State University (1996-1998)
  • Professor, Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University (1998-present)
  • Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University (1998-present)
  • Several administrative positions, including: Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY),  Assistant Director (1979-1981); Associate Director (1981-1985); Co-Director (1985-1986); Director (1986-1991); Co-Director 1991-present)
  • Member of the National Science Board, an independent body appointed by the President of the United States to advise congress and the Executive branch on matters relevant to science policy (2006-present)
  • Numerous awards, including: Mensa Awards for Research Excellence (1985, 1986, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2002); Best Research Paper on the Gifted, National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) (1987); Distinguished Scholar Award, NAGC (1992); George A. Miller Award, American Psychological Association (1999); Lifetime Achievement Award for Research on Intelligence, Mensa Educational Foundation (2004)

Definition of Intelligence

…[T]he models [we’ve] found most useful are the models by Jack Carroll and Dick Snow…They actually build on decades of psychometric research to build a hierarchical model of intelligence.  It has a general factor at its summit…that accounts for approximately half of the variation in individual differences in human intellectual functions, and people name that function differently.  Some talk about it as an intellectual sophistication function, general intelligence, g. They’re pretty much the same thing.  And then there are specific abilities—specific factors—that are more molecular, that have to do with spatial reasoning, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning. And they go down to more molecular strands after that (David Lubinski, speaking in a joint interview with Camilla Benbow, July 23, 2003)”.

Major Contributions

  • Co-Director of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), a planned 50 year longitudinal study of highly gifted students
  • Co-author (with Julian Stanley) of a well-known Science article reporting gender differences in mathematical ability (1980)

Click here to see the interview transcript and video clips

Ideas & Interests

Although many talented researchers in the field of human intelligence gain prominence early in their careers, this attention is usually limited to the professional interest of other psychologists and educators; few gain prominence in popular culture. Camilla Persson Benbow is different. Her research caught the media’s attention when she was still a young graduate student working toward her doctorate in Education.  An article she co-wrote with her advisor, “Sex Differences in Mathematical Ability:  Fact or Artifact?” appeared in the journal Science on the morning of December 12, 1980; before lunchtime it was national news.  The data reported in that article are still motivating conversations both in the academic community and in the popular press.

The results Dr. Benbow and co-author Julian Stanley reported in 1980 suggested that gender differences in mathematical reasoning ability may have a biological origin, and that the intellectual disparity between males and females in math is only exacerbated by environmental influences, such as differential course-taking and socialization (Benbow & Stanley, 1980).  The data, obtained from nearly 10,000 gifted middle school students participating in the longitudinal Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) demonstrated that the large gender differences in mathematical reasoning ability are robust, stable and emerge early in life. In the years since the original study, data from the SMPY have continued support this hypothesis (Raymond & Benbow, 1986; Benbow & Lubinski, 1993).

The SMPY began in 1971, under the direction of psychologist Julian Stanley. Dr. Benbow became its director in 1986, and she is now co-director with psychologist David Lubinski.  The study is now in its fourth decade of data collection, and as new participants are recruited, the original 1970s cohorts continue to be followed.  In addition to gathering information about the specific ability profiles of the participants, the SMPY is helping psychologists and educators to understand the values, personality patterns and educational and vocational preferences and outcomes of highly gifted individuals as they mature and navigate their lives.  These data are useful for making recommendations for talent development and educational policy, e.g. special programs for gifted children, advanced placement classes and issues related to grade acceleration.

Selected Publications

Benbow, C. P. (1988).  Sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability among the intellectually talented:  Their characterization, consequences, and possible causes.  Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 11, 169-232.

Benbow, C. P., & Lubinski, D. (Eds.). (1996). Intellectual talent:  Psychometric and social issues. Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press.

Benbow, C. P., Lubinski, D., Shea, D. L &  Eftekhari-Sanjani, H. (2000).  Sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability at age 13: Their status 20 years later.  Psychological Science, 11(6), 474-480

Benbow, C. P., & Stanley J. C. (1980).  Sex differences in mathematical ability:  Fact or Artifact?  Science, 210(12), 1262-1264.

Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. P. (1994).  The study of mathematically precocious youth: The first three decades of a planned 50-year study of intellectual talent.  In R. F.  

Subotnik & K. D. Arnold  (Eds). Beyond Terman: Contemporary longitudinal studies of giftedness and talent (pp. 255-281). Westport, CT: Ablex.

Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2000).  States of excellence.  American Psychologist, 55(1), 137-150


Benbow, C. P., & Stanley J. C. (1980).  Sex differences in mathematical ability:  Fact or Artifact?  Science, 210(12), 1262-1264.

Raymond, C. L, & Benbow, C. P. (1986).  Gender differences in mathematics:  A function of parental support and student sex typing?  Developmental Psychology, 22(6), 808-819.

Benbow, C. P., & Lubinski, D. (1993).  Psychological profiles of the mathematically talented:  Some sex differences and evidence supporting their biological basis.  In The origins and development of high ability. Ciba Foundation Symposium, 178 (pp. 44-66).  Oxford:  John Wiley & Sons.

Image courtesy of Camilla P. Benbow

Camilla Benbow’s personal Web site

Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) Web Site