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Observer-Rated Environmental Sensitivity Moderates Children’s Response to Parenting Quality in Early Childhood

Lionetti, F., Klein, D. N., Aron, A., Aron, E., & Pluess, M. (2019), Developmental Psychology.

This empirical paper introduces the first observational measure of sensitivity for three-year-old children, the Highly Sensitive Child-Rating System (HSC-RS).

Overcoming limitations of questionnaires, the HSC-RS assesses sensitivity objectively with trained experts rating children’s behaviour in a series of standardised situations.

After describing the development of the measure, the authors test whether sensitivity measured with the HSC-RS predicts the relation between parenting quality and developmental outcomes.

Results suggests that more sensitive children are indeed more affected by both high and low parenting quality.

They are more likely to develop externalizing and internalizing problems when experiencing low parenting quality but also more likely to develop social competence when parents provide high quality parenting.