OBJECTIVE. To better understand the ways in which adult attachment, sensory processing, and distress may be interrelated in healthy adults.
METHOD. A cross-sectional study design was used with a convenience sample of 116 healthy participants who completed questionnaires before participating in a cold pressor pain-inducement task.
RESULTS. Attachment anxiety was significantly positively correlated with sensory sensitivity as measured using the Highly Sensitive Persons Scale and the Sensory Profile and with distress (i.e., stress, anxiety, and depression). Associations between attachment anxiety and both sensory sensitivity variables were lost when controlling for stress. Attachment avoidance was correlated only with sensory sensitivity measured using the Sensory Profile, and this relationship was retained when controlling for stress. Neither the attachment nor the stress variables were associated with sensation seeking.
CONCLUSION. Findings suggest that developing active coping approaches to deal with sensory sensitivities may be a valuable way to minimize distress. Recommendations for future research are provided.