Are You An Introvert or Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

Number #48 on’s list of bestselling books at the moment is a book called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I agree with Dr Elaine Aron that the book is more about HSPs – the highly sensitive person – than it is about introverts. That said, I loved some of the descriptions of the Highly Sensitive Person in Quiet.

What is an Highly Sensitive Person?

Like most lists of diagnostic criteria, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person if you have SOME of these characteristics. You don’t necessarily have to have all of them and probably won’t.

– You prefer one on one interactions rather than groups.

– You need a lot of downtime away from people.

– You have difficulty filtering some types of incoming stimulation.

You might have difficulty filtering social stimuli e.g., the TV news, news about people who have cancer who you don’t know very well, other people’s moods.

Or, you might have difficulty filtering sensory stimuli e.g., background noise such as music playing at a cafe, or lots of people talking.

– You can’t fake emotions very well e.g., you can give a talk about a topic you’re passionate about to 300 people, but you can’t fake being passionate about something if you’re not.

– You like to research things thoroughly.

– You take your mistakes seriously and feel things deeply.

– You get intensely cranky when you get overaroused (by social or sensory stimuli. I mean overaroused in a neuropsych sense, not in a sexual sense).

– You like to talk about serious topics (e.g., the meaning of life, religion, relationships) and might feel uncomfortable talking about everyday topics like chit chat about movies. You may feel more comfortable talking about serious topics compared to small talk, whereas non-HSPs might find it uncomfortable to talk about some of the topics that are your preference.

What’s the difference between Highly Sensitive People and Introverts?

About 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts but 30% are extroverts.