Should I Keep It? Thoughts Verbalized During a Discarding Task

  • Christiana BratiotisEmail author
  • Gail Steketee
  • JoAnn Dohn
  • Carole A. Calderon
  • Randy O. Frost
  • David F. Tolin
Original Article


An essential criterion for hoarding disorder (HD) is difficulty parting with possessions, but relatively little research has been conducted on responses by people with HD during actual efforts to discard objects. Frost et al. (Behav Res Therapy 85:13–22, 2016) reported quantitative findings from a discarding task comparing those with HD to community control participants without significant hoarding symptoms (CC) on discarding behavior. The present study used qualitative data analysis of the verbal statements made by HD and CC participants while talking aloud about whether to discard or keep a personal object of low monetary value. Data were coded and analyzed using Atlas.ti software via an iterative process in order to examine thoughts reported during decision-making. Findings indicated that participants made more comments about reasons for saving than discarding and that HD participants reported more reasons to save and fewer reasons to discard than did CC participants. They also voiced more thoughts about emotions, both negative and positive, than did controls, especially for anxiety, anger and guilt and general distress. HD participants expressed more ambivalence about discarding compared to controls. Findings are discussed in relation to the cognitive and behavioural model for hoarding, previous findings regarding reasons for saving, and treatment implications.


Hoarding Cognitions Thought-listing Discarding task 



This study was funded by Grants from the National Institute of Mental Health to Randy Frost (R01 MH068008) and Gail Steketee (R01 MH068007).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

Christiana Bratiotis, Gail Steketee, Randy O. Frost, and David F. Tolin have received royalties from Oxford University Press. JoAnn Dohn and Carole A. Calderon have no conflicts of interests to disclose.

Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christiana Bratiotis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gail Steketee
    • 2
  • JoAnn Dohn
    • 3
  • Carole A. Calderon
    • 2
  • Randy O. Frost
    • 4
  • David F. Tolin
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Social WorkThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Boston UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.Portland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  4. 4.Smith CollegeNorthamptonUSA
  5. 5.Hartford HospitalYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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