Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences

First Advisor

Norma L. Hafenstein, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Paul Michalec, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Julia Watson


Fandom, Gifted, Community, Belonging, Imaginational Overexcitability, OEs


Fandoms are communities, either officially or unofficially organized, that are dedicated to the love of a particular person, team, fictional series or character (Barton & Lampley, 2014). According to the Belonging theory (Gailliot & Baumeister, 2006), people yearn for belonging because it provides them with a sense of identity, self-esteem and self-worth. Gifted individuals often have unique social-emotional characteristics, such as overexcitabilities (OE), which set them apart from their non-gifted, non-OE counterparts because they actually experience life in a very different way (Neihart et al., 2002). The purpose of this study was to examine the role of fandoms in the lives of the gifted who also have an imaginational overexcitability. Using phenomenological and grounded theory methodologies, a comprehensive survey and interview were created in order to gather data in a mixed-methods study (Creswell, 2013). Through the analysis of the data, in conjunction with the theoretical framework of the Belonging theory, it was determined that gifted individuals with imaginational overexcitabilities do tend to join fandoms for the purposes of creating peer groups, providing themselves with a sense of belonging and community, and for acquiring opportunities for escapism.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
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