Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Brian Vandenberg, PhD


Brian Vandenberg

George Taylor

Ann Steffen

Lois Pierce


Hoarding is a serious and debilitating disorder that has a chronic course, is difficult to treat, and has a high treatment dropout rate. The most notable feature of hoarding is excessive clutter, which is driven by excessive acquiring of objects and difficulty discarding them. Two little researched factors that appear to be particularly central in contributing to acquiring and difficulty discarding are decision-making deficits and association. This study examined decision making and association, using self-report measures, a computerized decision-making task, and an association task, in a sample of 62 participants, consisting of 39 hoarders and 23 non-hoarding controls. These individuals were recruited from online sources and completed the study online. As predicted, hoarders scored significantly higher than controls on aspects of decision making: indecision, concern over mistakes and perfectionism. As predicted, group differences were not found for actual number of mistakes on a decision-making task. Contrary to predictions, hoarders and controls did not differ on the decision-making aspects of slowness; considering many pieces of information; or the information processing aspect of association. Results revealed no significant correlations between measures of hoarding symptoms and any aspects of decision making or association. Furthermore, concern over mistakes did not predict hoarding symptoms over and beyond actual mistakes. Indecision did not mediate concern over mistakes and hoarding symptoms, nor did indecision mediate perfectionism and hoarding symptoms on either hoarding measure in the hoarding group. These findings provide further support for the role of certain decision-making deficits in hoarding and highlight the need to conceptualize and examine potential ways these deficits impact acquisition and difficulty discarding.

OCLC Number


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Psychology Commons