Sensory-processing sensitivity and its relation to introversion and emotionality

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1997 Aug;73(2):345-68. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.73.2.345.


Over a series of 7 studies that used diverse samples and measures, this research identified a unidimensional core variable of high sensory-processing sensitivity and demonstrated its partial independence from social introversion and emotionality, variables with which it had been confused or subsumed in most previous theorizing by personality researchers. Additional findings were that there appear to be 2 distinct clusters of highly sensitive individuals (a smaller group with an unhappy childhood and related variables, and a larger group similar to nonhighly sensitive individuals except for their sensitivity) and that sensitivity moderates, at least for men; the relation of parental environment to reporting having had an unhappy childhood. This research also demonstrated adequate reliability and content, convergent, and discriminant validity for a 27-item Highly Sensitive Person Scale.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arousal
  • Attention*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Introversion, Psychological*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development