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There are few studies testing the differential susceptibility hypothesis (DSH: hypothesizing that some individuals are more responsive to both positive and negative experiences) with adult personality traits. The current study examined the DSH by investigating the moderating effect of sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS) on childhood experiences and life satisfaction. A total of 185 adults completed measures of SPS, positive/negative childhood experiences and life satisfaction. SPS did moderate the association between childhood experiences and life satisfaction. Simple slopes analysis compared those reporting high and low SPS (+/-1 SD) and revealed that the difference was observed only for those who reported negative childhood experiences; with the high SPS group reporting lower life satisfaction. There was no difference observed in those reporting positive childhood experiences, which supported a diathesis-stress model rather than the DSH.

Original publication




Journal article


Pers Individ Dif

Publication Date





24 - 29


Differential susceptibility, Life satisfaction, Personality, Sensory processing sensitivity, Stress and coping