HIP – Gifted or Zebra – all of these terms overlap under the same principle. HPI is a term that we have been hearing a lot about lately, whether on television through news or series (e.g. HPI with Audrey Fleurot), or even on social networks. Let’s take a look at High Potentials. 

1. What is an HP person?

A High Potential person is considered to have neuro-atypical functioning. This functioning is characterised by a different neurological development from the rest of the population. Thus, people with High Potential are not superior to the rest of the population, but they are able to make links between the different elements that surround them more quickly and memorise them more easily.

First of all, as a general rule there are two types of High Potential: 

HIP: High Intellectual Potential

HEP: High Emotional Potential

  • Being HIP

HIP stands for High Intellectual Potential. This indicates that people have a higher cognitive intelligence than people of the same age group. 

For a person to be considered HIP, he or she must have an IQ (Intelligence Quotient) above 130, which corresponds to 2.3% of the population with the highest IQ. 

As said before, this high potential mainly concerns cognitive skills. Cognitive skills include: different memories, knowledge, logical abilities, visual-spatial skills…

Often people with intellectual disabilities have the characteristic of thinking in a less linear way than the rest of the population, which is known as tree thinking. One thought will generate a multitude of others, which can also lead to difficulties in concentrating on one thing at a time. This difficulty in focusing on one idea can lead to ADHD. However, beware, just because you are a high potential does not necessarily mean you have ADHD and vice versa. 

Another diagnosis that can often be linked to HIP is the diagnosis of ASD and particularly Asperger’s Syndrome. Like ADHD, this does not mean that all HIP’s have Asperger’s and vice versa.

  • Being HEP

HEP is High Emotional Potential: This characteristic corresponds to a superior emotional intelligence. HEP people do not necessarily have the same cognitive skills as HIP people, but they do have significant emotional skills. They will show strong sensitivity, empathy, and understanding of other people’s emotions and their own. Often HEP people will also have good interpersonal skills by listening to others. Thus one of the main characteristics of HEP people is the fact that they are aware of their emotions and manage them.

It is important not to confuse HEP with hypersensitivity. Indeed, a hypersensitive person will also be very sensitive to what surrounds him or her in the environment, whether it be noise, light, sensations, etc., whereas an HEP person will only be concerned with emotions and the whole sphere that surrounds them. Like ADHD in HIP, HEP people can be hypersensitive and hypersensitive people can be HEP, but this is not always the case!

2. What are the differences between HIP – HEP – Gifted – Zebra?

With all these terms, it’s easy to get lost and not understand anything. So let’s go over it all again. Moreover, depending on the site, the limits are quite blurred. 

In the scientific community the term used is “High Potential“, in common language some use the terms “giftedness” or “zebra” for example. But all these terms refer to the same characteristics.

3. What are the symptoms of HIP? How do I know if I have HP?

In HP we will not talk about “symptoms”. Indeed, the term “symptom” refers to a pathology, a disease. But being HP is not a disease but a characteristic of the person. Thus we will rather use the term “specificities” which seems to us more adapted. 

To find out if you are HP there are different tests that can be carried out with the help of professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists)

There are several signs that you may be gifted: 

  • People with HP are bored at school and may even drop out and fail at school. Maybe you yourself had the impression at school that the teacher was always repeating the same thing, that the lessons were too slow…
  • For HPI, the IQ is higher than average: around 130. Different professionals can assess the IQ via different scales such as the WISC (for children) or the WAIS (for adults)
  • Good memorization of lessons: Indeed, high potential people are able to memorize very easily the information on the subjects that interest them.
  • Emotional hypersensitivity 
  • Very curious, there is a need to know the “why” of things, to absorb knowledge regularly. 
  • It can be difficult to form relationships with others: these people may find themselves in a certain social isolation. People with HEP, on the other hand, are very good at developing social relationships but have great difficulty maintaining them over the long term. 
  • A high potential person is often a perfectionist who may therefore regularly think of himself as “rubbish”, because what he does is never good enough! 
  • People with HIP and HEP often feel out of step with others, which can cause great suffering.

Of course, as explained above, there are tests that can detect a High Potential. If you think that you yourself belong to this population, do not hesitate to go and see a trained professional!


4. What studies and careers for HIP?

If you are an HP yourself, you may feel that you have a lot of difficulty entering the professional world and you are therefore wondering about the jobs that could suit you. 

I have some bad news… There is no such thing as a typical job for HP people. The main thing is that you find a career path that corresponds to your expectations, your desires, your interests and your needs. Often you will not find the right career path from the start. Perhaps you will need to experiment first before you find what suits you best. 

Often the jobs that are suitable for HP people are those that involve a lot of thinking throughout the day. In order to maintain a job in the long term, it must be able to respond to the intellectual/emotional curiosity of HP people, require analysis… 

Even if there is no typical job, it is important not to be in a repetitive job where there is nothing to learn. Being in this type of job can lead to boredom and bore out (mental and physical exhaustion due to boredom and lack of job satisfaction). 

In the context of HP, people are also susceptible to burn-out (emotional and mental exhaustion, due to a prolonged and important investment). Indeed, in constant need of learning and multi-tasking, they can also quickly find themselves under water from the many tasks required. In addition, the line manager can also take advantage of this, by giving the employee even more tasks. 

Despite the disconnect that HP people may feel, they have many strengths that they can apply in the professional world: 

  • the IT professions 
  • occupations involving human contact 
  • The sales staff 
  • art and creation
  • ..

As said before, being High Potential is not a disease or a pathology! You think, understand and see things differently. However, if this is a great suffering for you, do not hesitate to go and see a professional who will help you understand.