PTypes Personality Types
PTypes Main Interests of the Personality Types Vigilant Type

Sensitive Personality Type

The interests of the Sensitive Personality Type include (Oldham, pg. 180):

  • making your world small and knowing the people in it
  • avoiding a wide social network
  • shunning celebrity and being well known
  • achieving recognition for your creativity
  • staying nestled in an emotionally secure environment with a few family members or friends
  • exploring your imagination
  • finding freedom in your mind, feelings, and fantasies

Main Interests of the Sensitive Personality Type

  1. being accepted

  2. being liked

  3. maintaining restraint

  4. sticking with the familiar and known

  5. being socially adept and personally appealing

  6. engaging in familiar, routine activities

  7. receiving approval and acceptance in social situations

Characteristic Traits and Behaviors

Dr. John M. Oldham has defined the Sensitive personality style. The following six characteristic traits and behaviors are listed in his The New Personality Self-Portrait.

  1. Familiarity. Individuals with the Sensitive personality style prefer the known to the unknown. They are comfortable with, even inspired by, habit, repetition, and routine.

  2. Concern. Sensitive individuals care deeply about what other people think of them.

  3. Circumspection. They behave with deliberate discretion in their dealings with others. They do not make hasty judgments or jump in before they know what is appropriate.

  4. Polite reserve. Socially they take care to maintain a courteous, self-restrained demeanor.

  5. Role. They function best in scripted settings, vocationally and socially: when they know precisely what is expected of them, how they are supposed to relate to others, and what they are expected to say.

  6. Privacy. Sensitive men and women are not quick to share their innermost thoughts and feelings with others, even those they know well.

Source: Oldham, John M., and Lois B. Morris. The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love, and Act the Way You Do. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam, 1995.


1. Sensitive: "Susceptible to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of others" (AHD)

Synonyms: "susceptible, subject, exposed, open, liable, prone" (MW, 723)

"Liable, open, exposed, subject, prone, susceptible, sensitive are used with reference to persons or things and mean being by nature or situation in a position where something stated or implied may happen. Liable ... is used particularly when the thing one incurs or may incur is the result of his obligation to authority, of his state in life, or of submission to forces beyond his control ... Open suggests lack of barriers or ease of access ... Exposed presupposes the same conditions as open, but it is more restricted in application because it implies a position or state of peril or a lack of protection or of resistance ... subject and prone ... both suggest greater likelihood of incurring or suffering than liable and even less resistance than exposed; they may both connote the position of being under the sway or control of a superior power, but otherwise they differ in implications. Subject implies openness to something which must be suffered, borne, or undergone for a reason (as a state in life or a social, economic, or political status or a quality of temperament or nature) ... Prone, on the other hand, usually implies that the person, or less often the thing, concerned is more or less governed by a propensity or predisposition to something which makes him or it almost certain to incur or to do that thing when conditions are favorable ... Susceptible carries a stronger implication than the preceding terms, with the exception of prone, of something in the person's or thing's nature, character, constitution, or temperament that makes him or it unresistant or liable to a thing and especially to a deleterious thing or a thing that exerts a deleterious influence ... When used attributively the word often implies a readiness to fall in love ... Sometimes, however, susceptible stresses openness by reason of one's nature, character, or constitution, rather than liability, and when followed by of is equivalent to admitting or allowing ... Sensitive differs from susceptible chiefly in implying a physical or emotional condition that predisposes one to certain impressions or certain reactions ..." (494-95)

Analogous: "impressed, influenced, affected ... : predisposed, inclined ... "

Antonym: "insensitive" (723)


2. Sensitive" 1. "Capable of perceiving with a sense or senses" 2. "Responsive to external conditions or stimulation" (AHD)

Synonyms: "sentient, impressible, impressionable, responsive, susceptible"

"sentient, sensitive, impressible, impressionable, responsive, susceptible can all mean readily affected by stimuli, usually external stimuli. Sentient implies a capacity to be affected through the senses; it may describe inclusively the lowest thing in animal life that feels, or the infant aware only of rudimentary sensation, or the man with the most highly developed powers of sensation or perception. The term sentient creature or sentient being may apply to a creature or being within these classes or between them ... or it may apply to something animate or inanimate to which similar powers are ascribed ... Sensitive ... applies usually to human beings who are quick or sharp in sensing anything. It may imply senses that respond to the most delicate stimuli ... or it may imply quick emotional reactions that are the outward signs of one's being easily moved or stirred ... an acuteness or mind that is linked with acuteness of sense and of emotion ... Sometimes sensitive is applied not only to a part of the body (as a section of skin or an organ) which is abnormally or excessively reactive to stimuli but to inanimate things (as a photographic film, a thermometer, or an explosive) which responds quickly to some specific influencing factor (as light, heat, or shock) ... Impressible implies occasionally and impressionable regularly a readiness to be influenced, not only by a stronger power, but by a power that succeeds in producing an impression. They so not imply, as sensitive usually does, a power to judge accurately and delicately; rather they suggest crudeness or immaturity or indifference to the quality of the thing that impresses ... Responsive, which implies sensitiveness to stimuli in particular or in general, suggests in addition a readiness to respond or react in the way that is wanted. Since it usually occurs only in a good sense, it is likely to connote alertness, cooperativeness, and enthusiasm ... Susceptible ... suggests a fitness in disposition or in temperament to be affected by certain stimuli. Though it comes close to impressionable or responsive it more often implies weakness than does either of them, the weakness sometimes being stated by more frequently implied or suggested (as by the person considered or the circumstances attending) ..."(MW, 724)

Analogous: "alert, watchful, vigilant, wide-awake; sharp, keen, acute; aware, conscious, cognizant, sensible, alive" (723)



The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1981, c.1969). William Morris, Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Merriam-Webster (1984). Webster's New Dictionary of Synonyms: A Dictionary of Discriminated Synonyms with Antonyms and Analogous and Contrasted Words. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

Noteworthy examples of the Sensitive personality type are: Index of noteworthy examples

Ingmar Bergman | Hillary Rodham Clinton | Joy Davidman | Emily Dickenson | Joan Didion | Bob Dylan | Gustav Flaubert | Janeane Garofalo | Nathaniel Hawthorne | Kazuo Ishiguro | Soren Kierkegaard | Lady Gaga | Hamlet | D.H. Lawrence | Madame Bovary | Margaret Mead | Joni Mitchell | Rollo May | Paul Morel | Anais Nin | Joyce Carol Oates | Flannery O'Connor | Camille Paglia | Jean-Jacques Rousseau | Rita Rudner | Jerry Seinfeld | William Shakespeare | Kenneth Starr | James Thurber

The Sensitive Personality Type is derived from Avoidant Personality Disorder.



Summary - Personality Disorders
Copyright © 2014 Dave Kelly

Creative Commons License
PTypes Personality Types by Dave Kelly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. (See Copyrights for details.)