Do you ever find yourself in a loud restaurant, watching your friends happily chatting with each other, but you’re so overstimulated by the noise that you just want to go home?
Or if you have a small misunderstanding with someone, do you process the experience for days afterward? Have people consistently commented to you how sensitive you are?
If so, there’s a chance you might be a highly sensitive person or HSP.
Dr. Elaine Aron, the author of The Highly Sensitive Person, defines a highly sensitive person as someone who “has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”
She goes on to elaborate that compared to people without the trait, the highly sensitive person spends a lot of time processing and reflecting upon their experiences.
Some of the most common signs and traits of a highly sensitive person include:
- being a deep thinker
- having a vivid imagination
- being introverted
- becoming overwhelmed by sensory input, such as loud places
- being averse to conflict
- disliking violence
- feeling strong emotions
While these traits can sometimes make a person feel totally unlike anyone else in their family or group of friends, Dr. Aron estimates that up to 20% of people experience highly sensitive traits.
This short, free HSP test is meant for anyone who thinks they may be a highly sensitive person.
This test is not meant to definitively determine whether or not you are a highly sensitive person. Being highly sensitive is a personality trait, not a diagnosis or disorder.
But some of the common traits of HSPs can cause mental distress. If your highly sensitive traits are causing you distress, speaking with a mental health professional can help.
This online screening is not a definitive tool. As with many personality traits, there is a spectrum of experience related to being highly sensitive.
Remember, being an HSP isn’t a diagnosis or a disorder. But knowing that you exhibit some or all of the traits can help you understand some of your responses to stimuli. There’s nothing wrong with not enjoying crowds or needing some alone time!
If you’ve never enjoyed going into crowded bars, have a hard time watching violent movies, or been told by people throughout your life that you’re “too sensitive,” you might be an HSP.
Even though being highly sensitive is a personality trait and not a disorder, it can still lead to a fair amount of distress. Highly sensitive people often experience emotional or sensory overwhelm. They’re also typically deep and creative thinkers, highly thoughtful, and perceptive to the needs of others.
HSPs often find comfort in learning more about the highly sensitive personality trait. There are numerous books on the topic, including:
- The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron
- Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World: How to Create a Happy Life by Ilse Sand
- The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff
What are the traits of a highly sensitive person?
- vivid imagination
- easily experiences sensory overload in a loud or crowded environment
- introverted and needs alone time
- dislikes violence
- profound emotional responses
- sensitivity to others’ emotions
What is the difference between empaths and highly sensitive people?
Empaths and highly sensitive people have many traits in common –– one of the main traits of empaths is being highly sensitive.
The main difference between them is that empaths often feel other people’s emotions while HSPs tend to feel their own emotions. Most empaths are also HSPs, but not all HSPs are empaths.
Is “highly sensitive person” a diagnosis?
No, being a highly sensitive person is not a disorder or diagnosis, but rather a personality trait.
Is “highly sensitive person” a form of autism?
No, although a person with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder can be highly sensitive, being an HSP doesn’t mean that a person is autistic.