The cognitive-behavioural model of hoarding disorder: Evidence from clinical and non-clinical cohorts

Clin Psychol Psychother. 2018 Mar;25(2):311-321. doi: 10.1002/cpp.2164. Epub 2017 Dec 20.


The cognitive-behavioural model of hoarding disorder incorporates information processing difficulties, maladaptive attachment to possessions, erroneous beliefs about the nature of possessions, and mood problems as etiologically significant factors, although developmental experiences such as a compromised early family environment have also been proposed in an augmented model. This study examined the specificity and relevance of variables highlighted in the augmented cognitive-behavioural model. Various clinical participants (n = 89) and community controls (n = 20) were assessed with structured clinical interviews to verify diagnosis. Participants completed self-report measures of hoarding severity, cognitions, meta-memory, and early developmental experiences (e.g., memories of warmth and security in one's family). Hoarding cohorts (with and without obsessive-compulsive disorder) reported poor confidence in memory, but relative to other groups (obsessive-compulsive disorder without hoarding disorder, anxiety disorders, and healthy controls), hoarding-relevant cognitions, need to keep possessions in view, and concerns about the consequences of forgetting were significantly higher. Hoarding groups reported the lowest recollections of warmth in their family, although no differences were found between hoarding and non hoarding clinical cohorts for uncertainty about self and others. Nonetheless, clinical cohorts reported generally higher scores of uncertainty than healthy controls. When predicting hoarding severity, after controlling for age and mood, recollections of lack of warmth in one's family was a significant predictor of hoarding severity, with hoarding-related cognitions and fears about decision-making being additional unique predictors. The study supports the augmented cognitive-behavioural model of hoarding, inclusive of the importance of early developmental influences in hoarding.

Keywords: acquisition; cognitive-behavioural model; compulsive hoarding; difficulty discarding; hoarding disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavior
  • Cognition
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hoarding Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Hoarding Disorder / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Young Adult