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How Sensitivity Can Enhance Creativity

Jessica Chastain in Miss Julie“For me, fashion is incredibly emotional. I go to shows in Paris and try not to cry.” Actor Jessica Chastain

Qualities such as emotionality and empathy can help highly sensitive people be especially creative.

The self-test Are You Highly Sensitive? by Elaine N. Aron, PhD includes the items:

“I have a rich, complex inner life” and
“I am deeply moved by the arts or music.”

In a research paper, Dr. Aron described more characteristics, noting “the highly sensitive generally feel they are more aware than others of beauty and pleasure; better able to sense other’s moods… They are often seen by others as highly creative and intuitive, yet also detail-oriented.

“They have stronger emotional reactions than others—for example, they almost all report crying very easily (what I have come to call “emotional leadership”)—and as children were usually seen as shy or sensitive.”

People she interviewed “generally report being spiritually oriented and possessed of a rich, complex inner life and having vivid dreams.”

These are qualities that can fuel creative thinking and expression.

Although there is an overlap of high sensitivity and introversion, she notes that 30% of the people she interviewed “were clearly social extraverts, in that they liked meeting strangers, being in groups, and having a large circle of friends.”

From The Clinical Implications of Jung’s Concept of Sensitiveness by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. [PDF]

A study by Stony Brook University psychologists including Elaine AronArthur Aron and colleagues found significant differences in brain activity for highly sensitive people (those with sensory processing sensitivity), compared with non-sensitive people:

“Areas of the brain involved with awareness and emotion, particularly those areas connected with empathetic feelings, in the highly sensitive people showed substantially greater blood flow to relevant brain areas than was seen in individuals with low sensitivity…

“This is physical evidence within the brain that highly sensitive individuals respond especially strongly to social situations that trigger emotions.”

From Sensitive? Emotional? Empathetic? It could be in your genes – Stony Brook press release, June 2014.

Photo of Jessica Chastain in “Miss Julie.”

Quote at top from post (on my Highly Sensitive and Creative website): Jessica Chastain and High Sensitivity.

Also see my related Facebook page Highly Sensitive and Creative.

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How Sensitivity Can Enhance Creativity

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2014). How Sensitivity Can Enhance Creativity. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 31 Oct 2014
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