The Relationship between Hoarding Symptoms, Intolerance of Uncertainty, and Error-Related Negativity

  • Peter A. Baldwin
  • Thomas J. Whitford
  • Jessica R. Grisham


Individuals who hoard report poor tolerance for uncertainty. They also exhibit error-monitoring abnormalities and increased activation of the anterior cingulate during possession-relevant decision-making, potentially reflecting a context-dependent error sensitivity. Together, these underlying vulnerabilities may lead individuals who hoard to avoid uncertain acquiring and discarding decisions. The current study explored electrophysiological indices of error-monitoring (error-related negativity; ERN) in possession-related and possession-unrelated contexts, and how this related to self-reported intolerance of uncertainty (IU). Undergraduate students (N = 29) completed self-report measures of hoarding symptoms and intolerance of uncertainty, and then engaged in a Go/NoGo task and a novel Discard/NoDiscard task with concurrent EEG measurement. Regression analyses revealed that hoarding symptoms predicted ERN amplitude for possession-related errors but not possession-unrelated errors, and that this relationship was influenced by IU in possession-related contexts. These findings have theoretical implications for understanding vulnerability in hoarding.


Hoarding Event-related potentials Error-related negativity Intolerance of uncertainty 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Author A declares that he has no conflict of interest. Author B declares that he has no conflict of interest. Author C declares that this research was supported in part by a UNSW June Griffith Fellowship awarded to Author C.


This research was supported in part by a UNSW June Griffith Fellowship awarded to the third author.

Experiment Participants

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were approved by and conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the UNSW Australia Human Research Ethics Approval Panel (UNSW HREAP).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter A. Baldwin
    • 1
  • Thomas J. Whitford
    • 1
  • Jessica R. Grisham
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUNSWSydneyAustralia

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