In an article of hers, Elaine Aron, Ph.D. describes some of the basic qualities of the personality trait of high sensitivity. Here is the article:

You may belong to the 20% of us who innately prefer to think before acting.

Coiled in my shynessAre you famous for being slow to make decisions?

Do you need more down time than your friends do?

Are you bothered by noise, crowds, and having too much going on at once?

Are you unusually conscientious? Creative? Have a rich inner life?

This trait… is not new, of course, but has been misnamed as shyness, inhibitedness, neuroticism, or introversion (but 30% of us are extraverts).

You can be a high sensation seeker and still be highly sensitive—you may work in media, for example. But you are not impulsive and still need extra down time.

Most highly sensitive people undervalue themselves, but especially men, because the trait has been sadly mistaken for being “feminine.”

If you are a man, you could score lower and still be highly sensitive.

Men have trouble admitting to this trait and almost always secretly undervalue themselves, no matter how much they hide their sensitivity.

Why do the highly sensitive undervalue themselves?

Besides being a minority that often experiences subtle discrimination (“No one else finds it too loud”), we naturally take our mistakes more seriously and feel more deeply about everything. That is part of the strategy of preventing future errors.

Also, no one does well when over aroused, and we are much more than others when performing, taking a timed test, or any time someone is watching us do something. Hence we often perform worse than we really are capable of. More undervaluing.

We are also more affected than others by traumas and bad environments during childhood, making some of us noticeably depressed, anxious, or shy. Happily, with a good childhood we blend well and are actually happier than others and have better health and social skills.

What can you do today? Learn more at, and then start reframing all those “failures” that were only due to over arousal and “rejections” due to prejudice. It’s time to value your sensitivity.


Source: Time to Find Out: Are You Highly Sensitive?, from her Psychology Today blog Attending to the Undervalued Self by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. See the post for links to the HSP self-test and references.

Elaine Aron, Ph.D., is a research and clinical psychologist, and the author of a number of books including:

The Undervalued Self;

The Highly Sensitive Person

The Highly Sensitive Child

The image is titled “Coiled in my shyness” – but, as Dr. Aron notes, the trait is not the same as shyness, though for many of us, there are overlaps among shyness, sensitivity and introversion.

See article: Shyness, Introversion, Sensitivity – What’s the Difference?.



Ted Zeff on highly sensitive boys and men


Highly Sensitive

Highly Sensitive Books


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