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New test of children’s Environmental Sensitivity identifies three groups: orchids, dandelions and tulips

11 January 2018

It’s widely accepted children’s development reflects an interaction between their genes and the environment they are raised in.

More tentative is the intriguing idea that the role of the environment is more consequential for some children than others. According to this view, a minority of children are environmentally sensitive “orchids” who suffer disproportionately in adversity, but who especially thrive in positive conditions.

To date, research into this idea has been stifled by the lack of a short, reliable test of children’s Environmental Sensitivity. As reported in Developmental Psychology, a team led by Michael Pluess at Queen Mary University of London has now developed a 12-item scale for measuring children’s Environmental Sensitivity.

Preliminary work using the test supports the importance of the concept and suggests children fall into three groups: orchids; dandelions, who are relatively unaffected by the environment; and tulips, who are midway between the two.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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