This study examined the function of hoarding behaviors and the relations between hoarding and a series of cognitive and affective processes in the moment using ecological momentary assessment. A matched-groups design was used to compare college students with higher hoarding symptoms (n = 31) and matched controls (n = 29). The two groups did not differ in what function they reported acquiring served, and positive automatic reinforcement was the most commonly reported function in both groups. Engaging in hoarding-relevant behaviors did not predict change in positive or negative affect when controlling for previous affect. Emotional reactivity and experiential avoidance in the moment were both elevated in the higher hoarding group compared to controls, while momentary mindfulness and negative affect differentiation were lower. Overall, these findings support the importance of emotion regulation processes in hoarding. They also suggest individuals may not be successfully regulating affect in the moment with hoarding behaviors, despite efforts to do so. It may be useful to evaluate processes such as striving for positive affect in hoarding disorder in the future.
Krafft, J., Ong, C. W., Cruz, R. A., Twohig, M. P., & Levin, M. E. (In press). An ecological momentary assessment study investigating the function of hoarding. Behavior Therapy.