Different cultural views on sensitive behaviour can complicate the measurement of innate levels of sensitivity.
To explore this issue further, we tested the Highly Sensitive Person scale in the most culturally diverse setting to date: the rainbow nation of South Africa.
Our study examined whether brain characteristics of the new-born baby contribute to sensitivity to parenting quality in terms of cognitive development.
Research on sensitivity has evolved and grown substantially over the last 25 years. In this blog, I describe and summarise the breadth of research on sensitivity from the past (the first 20 years), the present (the last 5 years) and the future (the coming 10 years).
Does the transition from middle school to high school provide a developmental risk for sensitive adolescents? Our research findings suggest that sensitive adolescents report increased socio-emotional well-being if experiencing positive changes in the school environment.
Children’s sensitivity to distress in contexts of interparental conflict is stronger for children who devote more attention to angry and fearful emotions.
Genetic sensitivity moderates the effects of maternal stress during pregnancy on child behaviour with children that are genetically more sensitive being more affected by the quality of their prenatal environment.
Sensitive people are more strongly affected by both negative and positive experiences.
We conducted a genetic study of environmental sensitivity using a novel approach involving identical twins. Using these findings, we were able to estimate the genetic propensity to environmental sensitivity in two further samples and showed findings that were consistent with theories of sensitivity.
Our study examined whether prenatal stress increases sensitivity to parental care in an animal model.
Results showed that prairie voles that were prenatally stressed were more sensitive to the quality of care they received in terms of their later anxious behaviour and physiological reactivity.
Sensitivity is associated with enhanced activation of brain regions implicated in awareness, memory, and empathy. However, this comes with a cost such as greater risk for over-arousal and overstimulation.
Preliminary evidence suggests that for highly sensitive individuals “rest” may be especially critical for information integration and return to a well-balanced state.