Data and methods Accepted project proposals Associations between sensory processing sensitivity dispositional mindfulness and emotion regulation. Evidence from a populationbased cohort study

Author: Corina Greven
Affiliation(s): Radboud university medical centre
Keywords: Environmental Sensitivity, Sensory Processing Sensitivity, Emotion Regulation, Dispositional Mindfulness
Research question(s): 

  • What is the association between sensory processing sensitivity and dispositional mindfulness.
  • What is the association between sensory processing sensitivity and emotion regulation strategies, and does dispositional mindfulness moderate this association? Is this association independent of  sex, neuroticism, and openness to experience?

Link: OSF Preregistration

The personality trait sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) describes inter-individual differences in perception and processing of both negative and positive (internal and external) environmental stimuli. SPS is relevant to mental health, as it is common (high levels of SPS in approximately 20% of the population) and is associated with increased stress-related symptoms such as anxiety, burnout and depression. Prior research used the Highly Sensitive Person Scale to assess SPS, which has been criticised for various shortcomings. Recently, an improved scale for SPS, the Sensory Processing Sensitivity Questionnaire (SPSQ) has been developed, providing a more complete assessment of SPS. This scale is included in the Healthy Brain Study. One of the key features associated with SPS is greater emotional reactivity that may explain why SPS is linked to stress-related symptoms. Therefore, interventions aiming to address this in those with high SPS could be helpful to reduce stress-related symptoms. Mindfulness-based interventions are thought to reduce stress-related symptoms by improving for example emotion regulation. The relatively stable tendency to be mindful in everyday life can be assessed in the general population using a questionnaire of dispositional mindfulness, such as the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). One way of measuring emotion regulation (strategies) is through questionnaires such as the Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (CERQ). Previous research has found that higher SPS is related to worse dispositional mindfulness and that this mediates the association between the high SPS and stress-related symptoms. Moreover, emotion regulation has been found to mediate the association between high SPS and depression and anxiety. Studying the associations between SPS and emotion regulation using questionnaires such as the CERQ might provide further insights into which adaptive and/or maladaptive strategies are relevant to SPS. Lastly, researchers have not yet examined whether dispositional mindfulness may moderate the associations between SPS and emotion regulation strategies.