The relationship between sensory processing sensitivity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder traits: A spectrum approach

Psychiatry Res. 2020 Nov;293:113477. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113477. Epub 2020 Sep 24.


The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adults. The Highly Sensitive Person Scale (HSPS) scale and the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) were administered to a non-clinical group of 274 participants recruited from a university volunteers list. We found a highly significant positive correlation between number of self-reported ADHD traits and sensory sensitivity. Furthermore, ADHD traits and age were predictors of SPS and exploratory factor analysis revealed a factor that combined ADHD traits and items from the HSPS. The psychometric properties of the HSPS were also examined supporting the unidimensional nature of the concept. To our knowledge, this is the first study to identify a positive relationship between HSPS and ADHD traits in the general population. Our results further support recent findings suggesting abnormal sensory processing in ADHD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Self Report
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Sensation Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sensation Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult