Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Michael E. Levin


Michael P. Twohig


Rick A. Cruz


Experts have argued that hoarding disorder occurs in part because hoarding behaviors help individuals avoid distress and feel positive emotions in the moment. For example, when people who hoard choose to save something rather than discard it, they may avoid feelings of anxiety, and when people who hoard acquire something new, they may feel excited. However, no previous studies have examined whether or not these changes actually occur in the moment. These processes could also potentially be altered by how individuals respond to their emotions in the moment. For example, individuals who hoard may have stronger emotional reactions, distinguish less between different emotions, tend to avoid their emotions more, or tend to be inattentive of their experience, which could change how their emotions in the moment affect their behavior.

Therefore, this study examined whether or not the anticipated effects of hoarding behaviors on mood occurred, and whether or not there were differences between those with higher and lower hoarding scores on how they respond to their emotions, in a sample of 61 college students. Participants completed two online surveys one week apart, and responded to questions on their mobile phone throughout the week.

As expected, the students with higher hoarding scores had stronger emotional reactions to stress, avoided their emotions more often, and were less attentive to their ongoing experience. Both those with higher hoarding scores and lower hoarding scores vi reported that they acquired new items primarily to feel good. However, acquiring, discarding, working with items, and looking for items did not change either group’s mood in the moment. Overall, these findings suggest that people who hoard do have differences in how they respond to their emotions, which could mean that treatments that target these responses may be useful for these people. They also show the importance of understanding why working to put yourself in a good mood through acquiring is problematic for some people and not others, and suggest that there may be a difference between how these behaviors are intended to perform and their actual results.



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