Skip to content

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

30th June 2023 - By Dr Francesca Lionetti and Prof Michael Pluess

About the authors

Dr Francesca Lionetti is a developmental psychologist and a researcher with expertise in parenting, attachment, socio-emotional development and environmental sensitivity. She has contributed to the development and validation of sensitivity measures for infancy and childhood, and is involved in the longitudinal investigation of how sensitivity develops and interacts with the environment.

Prof Pluess is a developmental psychologist and one of the leading authors in the field of environmental sensitivity with specific expertise in the development and validation of sensitivity measures besides significant contributions to theories of environmental sensitivity. He leads several research projects on sensitivity.


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.

Over the last 20 years research on environmental sensitivity has grown significantly. In order to gather researchers to share and discuss recent advances in our understanding of environmental sensitivity, we organised the first international meeting on environmental sensitivity research.

The meeting took place at the University of Chieti-Pescara, Italy, on May 18th 2023. The one-day research meeting was organized by the University of Chieti-Pescara in collaboration with members of the team with the aim of bringing together young and senior scholars in the field of environmental sensitivity.

More than 300 people subscribed from all over the world, including senior and young scholars, researchers, and clinicians. Due to extreme floods in Italy that week, many participants were unable to travel and attended online instead.

Morning lectures were held in a blended modality, online and in person. Afternoon talks where in person only. We discussed and shared recent empirical findings, new directions of research and implications for practice, also creating the potential for new networking opportunities over an informal lunch.

In the morning a series of lectures provided a picture of recent research topics of interest in the field of environmental sensitivity. In the afternoon, senior scholars were invited to discuss in a round table new lines of research and potential applied implications for prevention and intervention contexts.

Then, a special section was devoted to young scholars who presented their research through a series of flash-talks. In what follows we will summarise the different sessions. For more details you can download the meeting booklet at the bottom of this page.

Morning talks

In the morning, Prof Michael Pluess, from the University of Surrey, UK, opened the invited talks and introduced how our understanding of sensitivity has developed over time resulting in the current broad and integrative conceptualisation of environmental sensitivity.

Prof Corina Greven, from Radboud University Medical Center, Netherlands, then discussed associations between sensitivity and stress-related and neurodevelopmental disorder traits, well-being, and somatic health based on new data from a population of adults.

Dr Bianca Acevedo from the Neuroscience Research Institute in NY, US, summarised her work on environmental sensitivity as captured by the trait of Sensory Processing Sensitivity and associations with brain structure and function.

After that, Dr Annalisa Setti, based at Cork University, Ireland, presented the theoretical rationale supporting potential associations between sensitivity and connection to nature, reporting and discussing empirical findings from recent research studies.

Finally, Dr Francesca Lionetti, from d’Annunzio University of Chieti Pescara, Italy, discussed the relevance of including the construct of sensitivity when investigating parenting behaviors and adjustment, supported by first empirical evidence from longitudinal studies.

Afternoon round table

In the afternoon, a round table took place with experts from Italy, to discuss how environmental sensitivity has informed multiple lines of research across fields and contexts, including, for example, the adjustment and development of adolescents (with Dario Bacchini and Concetta Esposito, from University of Naples Federico II, and Sonia Ingoglia and colleagues from University of Palermo) and people with an immigrant background (Ughetta Moscardino, University of Padova); the relevance of environmental sensitivity for applied contexts including schools (Luciana Castelli, SUPSI University); clinical support to adolescents with recurrent pain (Federica Galli, La Sapienza, Rome); anti-bullying interventions (Annalaura Nocentini, University of Florence) and psychotherapy (Elena Lupo, HSP Italy).

Other topics discussed included associations with physiological functioning and reactivity (Elena Nava, from Bicocca University, Milan, and Sara Scrimin, from University of Padova) and cognitive and motor aspects related to sensitivity in young children (Maja Roch and Irene Leo, University of Padova).

PhD student presentations

Finally, PhD and graduated master students from Italy, France, and the Netherlands presented their ongoing work and research projects providing exciting insights into new lines of research and adding positive energy and enthusiasm to further uncovering what sensitivity is and how it influences development and wellbeing from infancy to adulthood.


Despite the unfortunate flooding in Italy which prevented many people from attending in person, the first international meeting on environmental sensitivity was a great success. It was lovely meeting up with old friends and makig many new ones. We are looking forward to organising the next meeting and will share details as soon as plans have been solidified.