Differential Susceptibility for HSPs shows us that Highly Sensitive Persons can thrive in the right environment, but can also suffer in the wrong environment.
Dr. Elaine Aron writes about this topic in her newsletter, pointing out the theory first described by Michael Pluess and Jay Belsky. Multiple studies showed that in good environments, Sensitives had better outcomes than Non-Sensitive People. As Dr. Aron states, “rather than being Vulnerable to damage, they were Susceptible to everything”. New research on the ‘better’ side has been so plentiful that Pluess and Belsky adopted the term “Vantage Sensitivity” to describe HSPs gaining more than others when in a good environment.
In her newsletter link above, Dr. Aron lists some of these examples of good outcomes for Sensitives that weren’t found for Non-Sensitives in the same study:
- Better parenting leading to higher academic performance and teacher-rated social skills
- Low family adversity leading to more pro-social behavior
- Good home environment leading to less aggression
- Positive feedback during a literacy-skills training leading to greater literacy skills
- Mother’s responsiveness leading to child behaving in a more moral way
- Positive parenting leading to positive emotions in adolescence
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety leading to reduced anxiety
- Recent positive life events leading to lower neuroticism scores, more life satisfaction
- Partner’s positive emotions before discussing a marital disagreement leading to more positive feelings in the sensitive partner after the argument
For parents and partners of Sensitive, the above list represents something to strive for (see expanded version in Dr. Aron’s newsletter). These good outcomes should serve as encouragement for the 20% of males and females globally who identify with our innate trait.
All the Best,
Joe Capriotti – “Coaching to Thrive Through Sensitivity”