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Cognitive Aspects of Compulsive Hoarding

Abstract

Hoarding of possessions is thought to be influenced by deficits in information processing, emotional attachments, and erroneous beliefs about possessions. This study examined hypothesized beliefs about possessions using an instrument developed for this purpose, the Saving Cognitions Inventory (SCI). Participants were individuals with compulsive hoarding (n = 95), obsessive compulsive disorder without hoarding (n = 21), and community controls (n = 40). An exploratory factor analysis yielded 4 factors similar to those hypothesized, representing emotional attachment, concerns about memory, control over possessions, and responsibility toward possessions. Subscales created based on these factors were internally consistent, and showed known groups, convergent and discriminant validity. Regression analyses indicated that 3 of the 4 subscales (memory, control, and responsibility) significantly predicted hoarding severity after age, moodstate, OCD symptoms and other OCD-related cognitive variables were entered. Interestingly, difficulty with decision-making also proved to be an important predictor of hoarding behavior. Implications for understanding and treating hoarding are discussed and study limitations are noted.

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Correspondence to Gail Steketee.

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Steketee, G., Frost, R.O. & Kyrios, M. Cognitive Aspects of Compulsive Hoarding. Cognitive Therapy and Research 27, 463–479 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025428631552

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025428631552

  • hoarding
  • saving
  • beliefs
  • possessions
  • decision-making
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder