Compulsive decisions took by big corporation other the

Compulsive hoarding, one of the two main impulsive disposals disorders aspects,
was first introduced by Greenburg research in 1987. Through his research,
Greenburg analyzed four different cases of compulsive hoarding and set the
foundation of what will later on be considered as the compulsive hoarding


However, through his research, Greenburg doesn’t give a clear definition
of the compulsive hoarding phenomenon. The term of compulsive hoarding will
only be defined, as described in the previous chapter, through Frost & al
Cognitive-behavioral model of compulsive hoarding (1996).


This chapter of the literature overview shows, through some of the main
academic papers on the topic, the connection that lies between psychological
aspects and hoarding disorders. Indeed, those two aspects being, as stated
within Burke, Conn & Lutz research (1987), highly interlinked with one
another, they are most likely to be influenced by each other. Therefore, it
makes sense for researchers who seek to reveal the mysteries of compulsive
hoarding and similar obsessive-compulsive disorder, to analyze the
psychological aspects that can influence consumers to adopt such behaviors.


When it comes to hoarding behavior, it is important to distinguish two
different types of behaviors. On one side, hoarding can refer to consumers who
wish to keep products that can still be used. While, on the other side,
consumer also tend to keep products that are not usable anymore (Guillard
& Pinson, 2012).


While some may suspect hoarding tendencies to have no interest in the
course of marketing studies, it is also important to consider the impact of
hoarding tendency at the economic level. For instance, hoarding tendency has
led to the creation of new professions(Belk & Joon Young,
Another aspect of compulsive hoarding on the economic environment lies in the
fact that hoarders have no interest in purchasing new products as they do not
know what to do with the old one (Belk & Joon Young). Another research
conducted in 1975 by Stiff, Johnson & Tourk introduced hoarding, not as a
factor of the economic condition of our world, but as the result of economic
and marketing decisions took by big corporation other the last couple of years.
Indeed, among those decisions, it is possible to find factors such as retail
availability, formal or informal communication conducted by corporations which,
at the end, influence consumers experience and expectations (Still, Johnson
& Tourk, 1975).


Compulsive hoarding: Social and
Psychological aspects.


Now that we were able to establish the definition of hoarding behavior as
well as the impacts such tendencies have on the economical scale, we will get
to the main aspect of this part by analyzing the psychological and social
aspects that are considered as responsible for the hoarding disorder phenomenon.



In order to understand psychological causes that draws individuals to
adopt hoarding behavior, we must ask ourselves, what triggers people to keep
stuff they no longer have any use for?

One of the first aspects responsible for hoarding behavior is given
through the research of McKinnon, Smith and Hunt (1985). McKinnon & al
claims that one of the main aspects responsible for hoarding disorders is
triggered by the “uncertainty toward future events.” Indeed, not knowing if the
product will be useful in the future provide subjects with an incentive to keep
outdated product and, by doing so, triggers the hoarding disorder. In addition,
other recent studies, such as the one conducted by Cherrier & Ponnor (2010),
have pursued similar aspect of hoarding tendencies but took their conclusion a
step further. Through their research, Cherrier and Ponnor, besides agreeing
with McKinnin & al research, claims that hoarding disorder is the result of
some unfounded fear based on the idea that the individual might need the
product at some point later in his life.


As showed through the study of McKinnon, as well as Cherrier empirical
research, fear appears as one of the psychological aspects responsible for
hoarding disorders. This fear of “throwing away outdated products that might be
useful in the future” (Cherrier & Ponnor, 2010) can be explained by
traumatic events the individual went through in the course of his life (war,
poverty, economic crisis…).


The hoarding disorders might as well be the expression of profound
anxiety which goes back to childhood (Furby & Madera, 1984). Indeed,
empirical studies conducted by Tisseron (1999), and then extended by Vigouroux
(2008), claimed that hoarding might be the result of mothers who did not
provide their child with enough love or care during childhood. Those early
traumatic events then leads the individual to develop an attachment toward
certain objects in order for him to build autonomous self as well as gaining
self-confidence. These, psychological disorders are explained throw the
empirical research of Balint (1972). Indeed, Balint research shows some
consumers are getting a sense of security when being in contact with certain
products and feel abandoned when those objects are taken away from them. In the
case of hoarding disorders, a study conducted by Grisham & al, (2006)
claims that 80% of the participant reported childhood onset symptoms related to
hoarding disorders. Yet, those type of behaviors are often harder to notice and
tend to cause much less impairment thanks to parents’ involvement in their children’s
habits (Frost, Ruby & Schuer, 2012). Yet, according to Frost & al, (2012),
such hoarding behavior in childhood tends to be connected to specific products
such as inanimate objects.  


Through the course of his researches, Frost brings an interesting point
by showing that some products are more inclined than others to triggers
hoarding disorders. If Frost research happens to be correct and products can
trigger hoarding tendencies, R and marketing actions can be undertaken by
companies in order to triggers hoarding responses through the consumer
experience. In addition, Grisham & al study (2006) proves that certain
products are able to draw consumers toward hoarding behavior even at a very
young age. Through his study published in 1993, Frost & Gross provides the
reader with an exhaustive list of products more inclined than others to create
hoarding tendencies in the patient mind (e.g., newspapers, decorations,
collectible…). However, Frost & Gross also confess that the product doesn’t
necessarily represent the main aspect that causes compulsive hoarding
tendencies. In fact, psychological aspects of the subject represent a key
factor for whoever wishes to trigger a hoarding response in the mind of the


One of the psychological aspects responsible for hoarding disorders might
as well lie in the attachment some consumers may have toward certain products
(Baudrillards, 1968). During their studies on consumer behavior and attachment
toward products, Mugge, Schifferstein, & Schoormans (1985), came to the
conclusion that several factors among a product, such as its utility or its
design, was positively influencing consumer attachment. Mugge & al also
shows through their studies that the presence of memories someone might be
sharing with some object can impact consumer attachment.

This theory on products and memories is pushed a step further by Strahilevtiz
& Loewenstein studies (1998). Indeed, Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein
conducted an experiment on 138 MBA students with, as main purpose, to show that
the perceived value of consumers toward object is likely to increase if the
subject has owned the product for a long time.

At the end, the result has shown that people who hold on to one of their
belongings for a long period gave to that object a higher value than those who
didn’t. This phenomenon has been explained by Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein
(1998) using the following aspect:


Familiarity: The longer someone owns an object the more time he will have
to examine it, use it and, by doing so, will come up with new and useful technical
applications for it. This will inevitably have, as a main impact, to increase
the perceive value the consumer will have toward its belonging.


Motivated: In their studies Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein (1998) mention
the research of Beggan (1992). Beggan claims that some of people’s possessions
are perceived, after a certain period of time, as nothing less than an
extension of themselves. If this theory proved to be correct, that would
explain the attachment consumers may have toward certain objects (throwing the
product away would mean to getting ride off a part of them). Those explanations
show that some objects have the ability to crystallize individual personal
memories, or particular event, which has, as a main effect, to create a strong
personal tie between the individual and the object making it hard for the owner
to dispose of it (Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein, 1998).


Another aspect that could be considered as a main determinant for the
hoarding disorder would be the aging process. Indeed, a structured interview
conducted by Ayers, Saxena, & Golshan, (2010) on a panel showed that
hoarding disorders tendencies was significantly increasing with each decade of

The relation between age and hoarding tendencies first introduced by
Ayers, Saxena, & Golshan is taken into details a year later during the
research of Frost, Steketee, & Tolin, (2011). The study showed that, among
their sample of 96 individuals having OCD disorder, participants who were
finally proven to have hoarding tendencies were older (around 18 years older on
average). Frost explains his result by explaining that, hoarding tendencies, as
explain within our previous paragraph through the study of Cherrier &
Ponnor (2010) being the result of traumatic events. Elders had more opportunities
to go throw traumatic experiences making it easier for them to develop hoarding
tendencies. Frost theory will then be confirmed within the same year thanks to
Landau & al research (2011). Through the course of a study conducted of 81
individuals Landau came to the same conclusion as Frost by explaining that
compulsive hoarders tend to be older than the rest of the sample. Furthermore,
Landau also suggests a correlation between hoarding disorders as well as the level
of education. Indeed, highly educated individuals seemed within Landau study to
be more inclined to develop hoarding tendencies at some point in their lives.
However, this theory is yet to be discussed since very few studies been
conducted on that aspect.


Another study conducted within the topic of OCD claims that hoarding disorder
might not only be considered as a disease triggered by traumatic experience or
product characteristics, such as described within several studies (Frost,
Steketee, & Tolin, 2011; Cherrier & Ponnor, 2010; Strahilevtiz &
Loewenstein 1998), but might also find his origin in the very roots of
human DNA. Since the very beginning of studies conducted toward hoarding
disorders, it has been clear that hoarding might have been a feature that runs
into the family. One of the first studies to have shown an interest toward
genetic hoarders was made by Hopkins (2007). In his study, Hopkins suggested
that “a region on chromosome 14 is linked with compulsive hoarding
behavior in families with OCD.” This theory tends to be supported by some major
studies among which, some have been conducted by the International OCD Foundation
and showed that around 50% to 80% of people with hoarding disorders add a first
degree relative who could be considered as a hoarder himself. Frost later on
argues on Hopkins discovery by saying:


“This (Hopkins discover) could be a dramatic breakthrough in our
understanding of hoarding. However, it is important to note that these studies
are all preliminaries with relatively small samples that don’t fully represent
the range of hoarding in the population. Furthermore, we don’t also yet
understand just what traits might be heritable. Perhaps it is something that
underlies hoarding, like decision-making problems, and not hoarding itself that
is inherited.”

 Frost, 2007


Through that citation, Frost explains that a much bigger sample of the
population is needed in order to fully prove the theory that was first announced
by Hopkins. Unfortunately, up to this day, very few researchers have focused
their efforts on the inherited aspect of the hoarding disorder phenomenon.
However, some research papers tried to apply Frost recommendation by applying
the same principles as the one Hopkins dealt with, but this time, on a larger
scale. One of those experiments was conducted by Samuels & al (2007).
During his experiment, Samuels tried to analyze the different genetics and
environmental factors responsible for hoarding disorders by using a sample made
on over 600 individuals. However, as explain by Frost, the size of the sample required
to prove Hopkins theory would have to be representative of the entire population
of people suffering from hoarding disorder. Therefore, in order to provide the
community with a sample big enough to prove Hopkins’s theory, him and Frost
decided to join force and shall release a paper that will prove or dismiss
Hopkins’s theory on hoarding disorders.


Until this point, this part of our literature have focused on the
psychological aspects that may be responsible for hoarding disorders. However,
another aspect, that is yet to be dealt with in this part, is related to social
factors and how those factors are likely to influence hoarding tendencies.
Indeed, several studies claims that social aspects could also be considered as
a cause of hoarding disorder tendencies (Heidbreder & al, 2000; Fone &
Porkess, 2008). One of the founding studies to have drawn attention toward the
relation between social aspects and hoarding disorders was conducted by Heidbreder & al (2000). In their studies, Heidbreder
& al analyzed the effect of long-term isolation on rats. The result of
their studies than demonstrate that the rats finally ended up showing some food
hoarding tendencies. Those type of behavior was explained by Fone & Porkess
study (2008) who proved through their research that events such as social
isolation or even maternal separation (which also impact hoarding tendencies based
on Vigouroux research in 2008) was, on the long run, making the subject more incline
to develop OCD tendencies. In addition Pertusa & al (2008) highlighted that
hoarding disorders, despite being different from other OCD, are yet triggers by
similar elements such as traumatic events, maternal separation or fear of abandon
(Pertusa & al, 2008; Fone & Porkess 2008, Frost & al, 2007). In
addition, while consumers’ psychological aspects and tendencies tend to be
influenced by culture as well as the social environment they’re evolving in. It
might be interesting to ask ourselves if cultural differences have an impact on
consumer hoarding disorders. A partial answer to that question is given through
the research of Moghimi (2013). In his research, Moghimi claims that traumatic
event such as poverty or war are more likely to influence hoarding tendencies
toward individuals. Those type of traumatic events being more or less common in
several cultures it is more likely for culture to influences hoarding tendencies.
In addition, Moghimi (2013) explain that hoarding has become part of common
culture in the last decades thanks to TV shows, series and movies made around
the subject. This global interest given toward hoarding tendencies have,
according to Moghimi made people develop a type of hypochondria toward hoarding


Packrats, a healthy type of


During their research, Coulter & Ligas (2003) considered and analyze,
through a semi structure interview, conducted on over 28 individuals, the
behavior and general perception of people who considered themselves as packrats
or purgers.


The definition of packrats is given within Coulter & Ligas research as


“Packrats are people who from a behavioral perspective, keep things and
from a psychological perspective have difficulty disposing of things.”

Coulter & Ligas (2003)

It is possible to spot, within this definition, some similarities with
the hoarding definition provided by Frost published 7 years prior to Coulter
& Ligas article. As a reminder the definition given by Frost of compulsive
hoarding was as follows:


 “Pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition
and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that
cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.”


Frost (1996)


As we can see both definitions involve individuals having difficulties or
being unwilling to discard objects due to psychological and/or social issues,
they have been struggling with. Therefore, both of those definitions being
rather similar to one another, it might be interesting, for the sake of this
literature review, to analyze the similarities between packrat consumers and
compulsive hoarders.



One of the first similarities that can be found between packrat consumers
and hoarders is found within Coulter & Ligas review of the literature.
Indeed, during their review, Coulter & Ligas refers to Jacobi (1977),
claiming that consumers psychological behaviors and personal tendencies are
likely to influence their disposition pattern. Such a theory is also announced
through several research saw previously on compulsive hoarding tendencies among
which we can find some of Burke, Conn & Lutz (1978), Frost (1995) or
Vigouroux (2008) researches.

However, Coulter & Ligas also explain within their studies that
personal and psychological aspects are not the only factors which are inclined
to impact disposition process and that the nature of the product is also an
important factor as some product tend to be literally « used up »
after comsuption (Coulter & Ligas, 2003). This theory was also applied by
Frost (2012) claiming that some type of products are more likely to impact
consumers hoarding tendencies than others.

Another aspect that can be found in Coulter & Ligas analyze of
packrats consumers and share similarities with some major article on hoarding, lies
in the emotional connection people are creating toward certain objects. Indeed,
in their articles, Coulter & Ligas quotes one of Ligas (2000Office1 ) previous research by suggesting that a connection might
lie between the product and the symbolic meaning consumer are likely to link
the product with (Ligas, 2000). Indeed, the consumer is able to connect the
product to some particular events or moments giving him an intrinsic value and
making it hard for him to dispose of it. This aspect of the intrinsic value is
also addressed in Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein (1998) and Beggan (1992)
research paper on hoarding disorder. Beggan claims that, after a certain point
in the product life, the product is most likely perceived by his owner as an
extension of themselves making the process of disposal harder if not impossible
for the owner.



Regarding the many similarities that lie between hoarder and packrats, in
might be justified asking ourselves if hoarders and packrats are different names
for the same disorder or if some main difference lies between those two
disposition habits. This question was partially answered during Coulter &
Ligas research (2003). Indeed, while hoarders have, as a main purpose, to keep
a product for the reason described above without necessarily have any use for
it (Frost 1995). The packrats state of mind goes a step further. Despite
being as concerned as hoarders to keep their products for the longest time
possible, packrats are proving themselves to be highly innovative by finding
new ways to extend their products lives (Coulter & Ligas, 2003).

In addition, hoarding tendencies have always been perceived as something
negative as it is often associated with issues such as health risks, impaired functioning,
economic burden, or even altercation with friends and family members (Tolin
& al, 2008).

However, packrats are perceiving their disposition process in a more
positive way. Indeed, this perception is explained in Coulter & Ligas
research (2003). While relinquishing is often perceived as a painful process in
the eyes of compulsive hoarders (Tolin & al, 2008), one of the key concepts
for packrats, when relinquishing their product, is to make sure the product will
get available for someone else’s needs. Therefore, instead of simply throwing
away previous belongings, packrats will often donate their belongings to others
(e.g. charities, family member, community projects). By doing so, they’re
making sure their belongings will be placed in a new home. That step of the
disposal process being rather important for packrats as they need to be sure
the symbolic and intrinsic value of their products will be evident to the new
owner (Coulter & Ligas 2003).


Moreover, despite facing some major similarities with one another,
compulsive hoarding and packrats cannot be considered as the same disposition tendencies
as long as they do not trigger similar emotions within the subject. Indeed,
while compulsive hoarding can often be perceived as a real burden for some
individual forcing them to keep the product they no longer have any use for but
are yet incapable to relinquish (Frost, 1995). The packrats are perceiving
their disposition behavior as something likely to bring a sense of happiness in
their lives (Price et al. 2000). In addition, packrats tend to keep their
belongings for reasons that could be considered as more acceptable in current
society as they always find ways to create new technical applications while
showing constant innovation.

Furthermore, Coulter & Ligas research (2003) also explains that
packrat products often turn to become an extension of themselves which, in due
time, give the item the ability to trigger memories in the subject and therefore
provide the product with a strong intrinsic value. On the other hand,
compulsive hoarders, despite having similar tendencies to keep products because
of their intrinsic values, hold to their belonging for other reasons such as
traumatic events they might have experienced or fear of abandon (Strahilevtiz
& Loewenstein, 1998).


In conclusion to this part, we can state that several psychological (e.g.
traumatic event, fear of abandon, genetic) and social (eg. culture, isolation) aspects
are likely to intervene in the individual development of a compulsive hoarding
disorders (Frost, 1995; Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein,1998; Burke, Conn &
Lutz, 1978, Frost, 1995; Vigouroux, 2008; Jacoby, 1979). However, several of
those psychological and social factors finds their origins in the uncertainty
consumers might have toward future events as described by Smith and Hunt
(1985). In addition, Cherrier & Ponnor (2010), also highlighted the
importance fear plays in the hoarding disorder phenomenon, as traumatic events
lie at the very roots of what triggers compulsive hoarding disorders. This
analysis of the different psychological and social aspects related to hoarding
tendencies might also hold interests for private companies as it gives a
partial answer, on how compulsive hoarding can be triggered within the consumer’s
mind (Grisham & al, 2006; Frost, 2012). In fact, consumers are more likely
to develop hoarding tendencies toward products they considered a part of
themselves or product that holds an intrinsic value to them (Beggan, 1992;
Ligas, 2000).

Finally, despite now having some answers on the social and psychological
aspects which are likely to trigger’s compulsive hoarding, we still need to
approach the other aspect of impulsive disposal. In order to address the
matters on impulsive disposal and fully comprehend the psychological and social
aspects of those extreme disposition patterns, this literature review will
have, in the following chapter, to adresss the same issues on compulsive

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