Genetics of Environmental Sensitivity Across the Life Course


Some people are more affected by what they experience than others. Such individual differences in Environmental Sensitivity are widely observable across different species. According to a growing number of studies genetic factors play an important role in Environmental Sensitivity. People carrying sensitivity genes have not only been found to be more negatively affected by adverse experiences but also to benefit more strongly from positive supportive exposures. The current project is based on secondary data analysis and will investigate the moderating effect of a range of sensitivity genes across life from early childhood to age 55 in a large cohort study.


Belsky, J., & Pluess, M. (2009). Beyond diathesis stress: differential susceptibility to environmental influences. Psychological Bulletin, 135(6), 885-908. doi: 10.1037/a0017376


Pluess, M. (2015). Individual Differences in Environmental Sensitivity. Child Development Perspectives, 9(3), 138-143. doi: 10.1111/cdep.12120


Clark, C., Caldwell, T., Power, C., & Stansfeld, S.A. (2010). Does the influence of childhood adversity on psychopathology persist across the lifecourse? A 45-year prospective epidemiologic study. Annals of Epidemiology, 20, 385-394.


Pluess, M., & Belsky, J. (2013). Vantage sensitivity: Individual differences in response to positive experiences. Psychological Bulletin, 139(4), 901-916. doi: 10.1037/a0030196


Belsky, J., & Pluess, M. (2013). Genetic Moderation of Early Child-Care Effects on Social Functioning Across Childhood: A Developmental Analysis. Child Development, 84(4), 1209-1225. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12058

Biological Areas:



Genes, development and STEM approaches to biology