A psychometric evaluation of the highly sensitive person scale: the components of sensory-processing sensitivity
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Department of Psychology, State University of Humanities and Social Studies, Kolomna, Russia
Social and Differential Psychology Department, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Moscow, Russia
Avalon Business Systems, Inc., New York, USA
Publication date: 2018-12-10
Electron J Gen Med 2018;15(6):em96
Aron and Aron (1997) developed the Highly Sensitive Person Scale (HSPS) to measure individual differences in sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS). Their experiments showed that sensitivity is a one-dimensional construct characterized by high susceptibility to both external (e.g. light, noise) and internal (hunger, pain) stimuli (Aron 2013), later studies which were conducted using the HSPS, disagreed their concept. Further studies of the SPS construct are justified by the following: a Russian version of HSPS questionnaire has not yet been developed; the inner structure of the construct has not yet been conclusively defined (Aron and Aron, 2012), a different method of statistical data analysis may be required; the vast majority of studies, were using small homogeneous groups for sampling. Thus, the purpose of the present study was the psychometric evaluation of the Highly sensitive person scale using Russian data samples.

Two approaches – active and passive – were employed to collect the field data. The active approach used verbal advertising among undergraduate university students, i.e. the ‘snowball method’, whereas the passive approach relied on social media advertisements in Facebook and VK.com. 860 respondents participated in the study: 350 undergraduate university student volunteers (117 males, 233 females, average age 18.2) and 510 social media users (380 females, 130 males, average age 22.6).

The results of this study did not confirm the one-dimension model of sensitivity suggested in Aron and Aron (1997), nether was the three-factor model suggested by others. The hierarchical cluster and confirmatory analyses employed for the operationalization procedure suggest that sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) can be described in a two-factor model consisting of ‘Ease of Excitation’ and ‘Low Sensory Threshold’ subscales. The “Aesthetic Sensitivity” factor was identified during hierarchical cluster analysis, but showed very low correlation with the other factors “Ease of Excitation” and “Low Sensory Threshold”. This result encourages us to look deeper into the conceptual model of HSPS developed in Aron and Aron (1997).

The operationalization of the Russian version of HSPS confirmed that the SPS is multidimensional construct. The precise number of subscales remains open. The term sensitivity has many meanings in modern psychology, a more rigorous definition of the sensitivity construct is required.

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