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Connecting the Dots between Sensitivity and Physical Health: the role of Psychological Stress

In our study on sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), health, and perceived stress, we observed that perceived stress acts as a mediator between SPS and poor physical health, particularly in a predominantly Hispanic population.

This suggests that prioritizing stress reduction may enhance the impact of SPS on physical health.

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Are Gifted Individuals Truly Highly Sensitive? Unraveling the Connection

In our study, we investigated whether gifted individuals exhibit higher scores on Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS). Findings indicate that gifted individuals have lower scores on negative aspects of sensitivity, such as Emotional and Physiological Reactivity, while scoring higher on positive aspects, such as Aesthetic Sensitivity. These differences are partially explained by lower Neuroticism and higher Openness among gifted respondents.

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Investigating Sensitivity Through the Lens of Parents

We validated the Italian parent-report version of the Highly Sensitive Child scale in three studies. We found that the parent-report version of the HSC scale is a psychometrically robust measure that reliably captures individual differences in children’s response to environmental influences.

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The Developmental Origins of High Sensitivity

Amongst 858 members of a large longitudinal birth cohort, we found that high sensitivity in adulthood (28-29 years old) is common in individuals that had short gestational periods (< 38 weeks), and/or are born following stressful pregnancies. Our findings support existing evolutionary theory regarding the development of sensitivity.

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Measuring Sensitivity in Chinese Children

We translated the most-used sensitivity questionnaire for children into Chinese and studied how well it worked for Chinese children. Our results from two studies are promising: our Chinese version of the Highly Sensitive Child Questionnaire aligned in most aspects with similar studies conducted globally.

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Individual Differences in Environmental Sensitivity and Gut Health

Our study showed that highly sensitive individuals exhibit higher inflammation at lower levels of gut microbiota diversity, whereas no association with inflammation was demonstrated at higher levels of gut microbiota diversity. Individual differences in environmental sensitivity may moderate the association between gut microbiota and inflammatory biomarkers of stress-related psychiatric symptoms.

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Children’s Sensory Processing Sensitivity and Prosocial Behaviours

In two independent samples, we found that children with high sensory processing sensitivity demonstrated higher susceptibility to the influence of positive parenting regarding their prosocial behaviour.

In the lab, highly sensitive children demonstrated higher susceptibility to observed negative feedback compared to children with low sensitivity.

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Summary of the 1st Environmental Sensitivity Meeting in Chieti-Pescara, Italy

The 1st international meeting on research related to environmental sensitivity took place at the University of Chieti Pescara, Italy, on the 18th of May 2023. In this blog we summarise the meeting and highlight some key contributions. More details on talks and discussed topics are provided in the booklet of abstract, available as PDF at the bottom of this page.

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High Sensitivity is Associated with Accelerated Biological Aging

This study investigated the association between high sensitivity and telomere length as a biomarker of biological aging. We recruited 82 adolescents. Results show that sensitivity is negatively correlated with telomere length. More specifically, students with Low Sensory Threshold, one component of sensitivity, tend to have shorter telomeres, which indicates accelerated biological aging.

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The Self-Awareness of High Sensitivity

This qualitative study has led to the development of a new theoretical aspect of sensory processing sensitivity: The self-awareness of High Sensitivity. This perspective aims to explain the process through which highly sensitive people go in order to become aware of their sensitivity.