Detail-oriented visual processing style: Its role in the relationships between early life adversity and hoarding-related dysfunctions

Psychiatry Res. 2018 Sep;267:30-36. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.05.053. Epub 2018 May 23.


Early life adversity, ranging from material deprivation and parental dysfunction to abusive and life-threatening events, has been associated with hoarding symptom severity. Moreover, both victims of early life adversity and individuals with hoarding disorder have been found to have a higher tendency toward detail-oriented visual processing. This study aimed to investigate the role of detail-oriented visual processing in the relationship between early life adversity and hoarding-related dysfunction. Childhood exposure to life adversity, hoarding symptom severity, and emotional attachment to possessions, a hoarding-related dysfunction thought to be most closely related to adversity exposure, were assessed. Detail-oriented visual processing was evaluated using the Central Coherence Index, which was calculated based on the drawing process during the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test. It was found that detail-oriented visual processing was not significantly associated with hoarding symptom severity, emotional attachment to possessions, or the relationship between early life adversity and hoarding symptom severity. It did, however, act as a significant moderator in the relationship between early life adversity and emotional attachment to possessions. These findings add to the literature by identifying the role of a specific neurocognitive processing style in the mechanism through which early life adversity affects the development of a key hoarding-related dysfunction, elevated emotional attachment to possessions.

Keywords: Early life adversity; Hoarding; Visual processing style.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences / trends*
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Hoarding Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Hoarding Disorder / epidemiology
  • Hoarding Disorder / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ownership / trends
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult