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 thefoundation of what will later on be considered as the compulsive hoardingdisorder. However, through his research, Greenburg doesn’t give a clear definitionof the compulsive hoarding phenomenon.
The term of compulsive hoarding willonly be defined, as described in the previous chapter, through Frost & alCognitive-behavioral model of compulsive hoarding (1996). This chapter of the literature overview shows, through some of the mainacademic papers on the topic, the connection that lies between psychologicalaspects and hoarding disorders. Indeed, those two aspects being, as statedwithin Burke, Conn & Lutz research (1987), highly interlinked with oneanother, they are most likely to be influenced by each other. Therefore, itmakes sense for researchers who seek to reveal the mysteries of compulsivehoarding and similar obsessive-compulsive disorder, to analyze thepsychological aspects that can influence consumers to adopt such behaviors. When it comes to hoarding behavior, it is important to distinguish twodifferent types of behaviors. On one side, hoarding can refer to consumers whowish 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 thecourse of marketing studies, it is also important to consider the impact ofhoarding tendency at the economic level. For instance, hoarding tendency hasled to the creation of new professions(Belk & Joon Young, 2007).Another aspect of compulsive hoarding on the economic environment lies in thefact that hoarders have no interest in purchasing new products as they do notknow what to do with the old one (Belk & Joon Young). Another researchconducted in 1975 by Stiff, Johnson & Tourk introduced hoarding, not as afactor of the economic condition of our world, but as the result of economicand marketing decisions took by big corporation other the last couple of years.Indeed, among those decisions, it is possible to find factors such as retailavailability, formal or informal communication conducted by corporations which,at the end, influence consumers experience and expectations (Still, Johnson& Tourk, 1975). Compulsive hoarding: Social andPsychological aspects. Now that we were able to establish the definition of hoarding behavior aswell as the impacts such tendencies have on the economical scale, we will getto the main aspect of this part by analyzing the psychological and socialaspects that are considered as responsible for the hoarding disorder phenomenon. In order to understand psychological causes that draws individuals toadopt hoarding behavior, we must ask ourselves, what triggers people to keepstuff they no longer have any use for? One of the first aspects responsible for hoarding behavior is giventhrough the research of McKinnon, Smith and Hunt (1985).
McKinnon & alclaims that one of the main aspects responsible for hoarding disorders istriggered by the “uncertainty toward future events.” Indeed, not knowing if theproduct will be useful in the future provide subjects with an incentive to keepoutdated 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 astep further. Through their research, Cherrier and Ponnor, besides agreeingwith McKinnin & al research, claims that hoarding disorder is the result ofsome unfounded fear based on the idea that the individual might need theproduct at some point later in his life. As showed through the study of McKinnon, as well as Cherrier empiricalresearch, fear appears as one of the psychological aspects responsible forhoarding disorders. This fear of “throwing away outdated products that might beuseful in the future” (Cherrier & Ponnor, 2010) can be explained bytraumatic 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 profoundanxiety 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 notprovide their child with enough love or care during childhood.
Those earlytraumatic events then leads the individual to develop an attachment towardcertain objects in order for him to build autonomous self as well as gainingself-confidence. These, psychological disorders are explained throw theempirical research of Balint (1972). Indeed, Balint research shows someconsumers are getting a sense of security when being in contact with certainproducts and feel abandoned when those objects are taken away from them. In thecase of hoarding disorders, a study conducted by Grisham & al, (2006)claims that 80% of the participant reported childhood onset symptoms related tohoarding disorders.
Yet, those type of behaviors are often harder to notice andtend to cause much less impairment thanks to parents’ involvement in their children’shabits (Frost, Ruby & Schuer, 2012). Yet, according to Frost & al, (2012),such hoarding behavior in childhood tends to be connected to specific productssuch as inanimate objects. Through the course of his researches, Frost brings an interesting pointby showing that some products are more inclined than others to triggershoarding disorders. If Frost research happens to be correct and products cantrigger hoarding tendencies, R and marketing actions can be undertaken bycompanies in order to triggers hoarding responses through the consumerexperience. In addition, Grisham & al study (2006) proves that certainproducts are able to draw consumers toward hoarding behavior even at a veryyoung age. Through his study published in 1993, Frost & Gross provides thereader with an exhaustive list of products more inclined than others to createhoarding tendencies in the patient mind (e.g., newspapers, decorations,collectible…).
However, Frost & Gross also confess that the product doesn’tnecessarily represent the main aspect that causes compulsive hoardingtendencies. In fact, psychological aspects of the subject represent a keyfactor for whoever wishes to trigger a hoarding response in the mind of thepatient. One of the psychological aspects responsible for hoarding disorders mightas well lie in the attachment some consumers may have toward certain products(Baudrillards, 1968). During their studies on consumer behavior and attachmenttoward products, Mugge, Schifferstein, & Schoormans (1985), came to theconclusion that several factors among a product, such as its utility or itsdesign, was positively influencing consumer attachment.
Mugge & al alsoshows through their studies that the presence of memories someone might besharing 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 & Loewensteinconducted an experiment on 138 MBA students with, as main purpose, to show thatthe perceived value of consumers toward object is likely to increase if thesubject has owned the product for a long time.At the end, the result has shown that people who hold on to one of theirbelongings for a long period gave to that object a higher value than those whodidn’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 haveto examine it, use it and, by doing so, will come up with new and useful technicalapplications for it. This will inevitably have, as a main impact, to increasethe perceive value the consumer will have toward its belonging. Motivated: In their studies Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein (1998) mentionthe research of Beggan (1992). Beggan claims that some of people’s possessionsare perceived, after a certain period of time, as nothing less than anextension of themselves. If this theory proved to be correct, that wouldexplain the attachment consumers may have toward certain objects (throwing theproduct away would mean to getting ride off a part of them). Those explanationsshow that some objects have the ability to crystallize individual personalmemories, or particular event, which has, as a main effect, to create a strongpersonal tie between the individual and the object making it hard for the ownerto dispose of it (Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein, 1998). Another aspect that could be considered as a main determinant for thehoarding disorder would be the aging process.
Indeed, a structured interviewconducted by Ayers, Saxena, & Golshan, (2010) on a panel showed thathoarding disorders tendencies was significantly increasing with each decade oflife. The relation between age and hoarding tendencies first introduced byAyers, Saxena, & Golshan is taken into details a year later during theresearch of Frost, Steketee, & Tolin, (2011). The study showed that, amongtheir sample of 96 individuals having OCD disorder, participants who werefinally proven to have hoarding tendencies were older (around 18 years older onaverage). Frost explains his result by explaining that, hoarding tendencies, asexplain within our previous paragraph through the study of Cherrier &Ponnor (2010) being the result of traumatic events. Elders had more opportunitiesto go throw traumatic experiences making it easier for them to develop hoardingtendencies. Frost theory will then be confirmed within the same year thanks toLandau & al research (2011).
Through the course of a study conducted of 81individuals Landau came to the same conclusion as Frost by explaining thatcompulsive hoarders tend to be older than the rest of the sample. Furthermore,Landau also suggests a correlation between hoarding disorders as well as the levelof education. Indeed, highly educated individuals seemed within Landau study tobe more inclined to develop hoarding tendencies at some point in their lives.However, this theory is yet to be discussed since very few studies beenconducted on that aspect. Another study conducted within the topic of OCD claims that hoarding disordermight not only be considered as a disease triggered by traumatic experience orproduct 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 ofhuman DNA. Since the very beginning of studies conducted toward hoardingdisorders, it has been clear that hoarding might have been a feature that runsinto the family.
One of the first studies to have shown an interest towardgenetic hoarders was made by Hopkins (2007). In his study, Hopkins suggestedthat “a region on chromosome 14 is linked with compulsive hoardingbehavior in families with OCD.” This theory tends to be supported by some majorstudies among which, some have been conducted by the International OCD Foundationand showed that around 50% to 80% of people with hoarding disorders add a firstdegree relative who could be considered as a hoarder himself. Frost later onargues on Hopkins discovery by saying: “This (Hopkins discover) could be a dramatic breakthrough in ourunderstanding of hoarding. However, it is important to note that these studiesare all preliminaries with relatively small samples that don’t fully representthe range of hoarding in the population.
Furthermore, we don’t also yetunderstand just what traits might be heritable. Perhaps it is something thatunderlies hoarding, like decision-making problems, and not hoarding itself thatis inherited.” Frost, 2007 Through that citation, Frost explains that a much bigger sample of thepopulation is needed in order to fully prove the theory that was first announcedby Hopkins. Unfortunately, up to this day, very few researchers have focusedtheir efforts on the inherited aspect of the hoarding disorder phenomenon.
However, some research papers tried to apply Frost recommendation by applyingthe same principles as the one Hopkins dealt with, but this time, on a largerscale. One of those experiments was conducted by Samuels & al (2007).During his experiment, Samuels tried to analyze the different genetics andenvironmental factors responsible for hoarding disorders by using a sample madeon over 600 individuals.
However, as explain by Frost, the size of the sample requiredto prove Hopkins theory would have to be representative of the entire populationof people suffering from hoarding disorder. Therefore, in order to provide thecommunity with a sample big enough to prove Hopkins’s theory, him and Frostdecided to join force and shall release a paper that will prove or dismissHopkins’s theory on hoarding disorders. Until this point, this part of our literature have focused on thepsychological aspects that may be responsible for hoarding disorders. However,another aspect, that is yet to be dealt with in this part, is related to socialfactors and how those factors are likely to influence hoarding tendencies.Indeed, several studies claims that social aspects could also be considered asa cause of hoarding disorder tendencies (Heidbreder & al, 2000; Fone &Porkess, 2008). One of the founding studies to have drawn attention toward therelation 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 oftheir studies than demonstrate that the rats finally ended up showing some foodhoarding tendencies. Those type of behavior was explained by Fone & Porkessstudy (2008) who proved through their research that events such as socialisolation or even maternal separation (which also impact hoarding tendencies basedon Vigouroux research in 2008) was, on the long run, making the subject more inclineto develop OCD tendencies. In addition Pertusa & al (2008) highlighted thathoarding disorders, despite being different from other OCD, are yet triggers bysimilar elements such as traumatic events, maternal separation or fear of abandon(Pertusa & al, 2008; Fone & Porkess 2008, Frost & al, 2007). Inaddition, while consumers’ psychological aspects and tendencies tend to beinfluenced by culture as well as the social environment they’re evolving in.
Itmight be interesting to ask ourselves if cultural differences have an impact onconsumer hoarding disorders. A partial answer to that question is given throughthe research of Moghimi (2013). In his research, Moghimi claims that traumaticevent such as poverty or war are more likely to influence hoarding tendenciestoward individuals. Those type of traumatic events being more or less common inseveral cultures it is more likely for culture to influences hoarding tendencies.In addition, Moghimi (2013) explain that hoarding has become part of commonculture in the last decades thanks to TV shows, series and movies made aroundthe subject. This global interest given toward hoarding tendencies have,according to Moghimi made people develop a type of hypochondria toward hoardingphenomena.
Packrats, a healthy type ofhoarding? During their research, Coulter & Ligas (2003) considered and analyze,through a semi structure interview, conducted on over 28 individuals, thebehavior and general perception of people who considered themselves as packratsor purgers. The definition of packrats is given within Coulter & Ligas research asfollows: “Packrats are people who from a behavioral perspective, keep things andfrom a psychological perspective have difficulty disposing of things.”Coulter & Ligas (2003)It is possible to spot, within this definition, some similarities withthe hoarding definition provided by Frost published 7 years prior to Coulter& Ligas article.
As a reminder the definition given by Frost of compulsivehoarding was as follows: “Pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisitionand inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects thatcover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.” Frost (1996) As we can see both definitions involve individuals having difficulties orbeing unwilling to discard objects due to psychological and/or social issues,they have been struggling with. Therefore, both of those definitions beingrather similar to one another, it might be interesting, for the sake of thisliterature review, to analyze the similarities between packrat consumers andcompulsive hoarders. One of the first similarities that can be found between packrat consumersand 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 arelikely to influence their disposition pattern. Such a theory is also announcedthrough several research saw previously on compulsive hoarding tendencies amongwhich we can find some of Burke, Conn & Lutz (1978), Frost (1995) orVigouroux (2008) researches. However, Coulter & Ligas also explain within their studies thatpersonal and psychological aspects are not the only factors which are inclinedto impact disposition process and that the nature of the product is also animportant factor as some product tend to be literally « used up »after comsuption (Coulter & Ligas, 2003). This theory was also applied byFrost (2012) claiming that some type of products are more likely to impactconsumers hoarding tendencies than others.
Another aspect that can be found in Coulter & Ligas analyze ofpackrats consumers and share similarities with some major article on hoarding, liesin 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 mightlie between the product and the symbolic meaning consumer are likely to linkthe product with (Ligas, 2000). Indeed, the consumer is able to connect theproduct to some particular events or moments giving him an intrinsic value andmaking it hard for him to dispose of it. This aspect of the intrinsic value isalso addressed in Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein (1998) and Beggan (1992)research paper on hoarding disorder. Beggan claims that, after a certain pointin the product life, the product is most likely perceived by his owner as anextension of themselves making the process of disposal harder if not impossiblefor the owner. Regarding the many similarities that lie between hoarder and packrats, inmight be justified asking ourselves if hoarders and packrats are different namesfor the same disorder or if some main difference lies between those twodisposition habits. This question was partially answered during Coulter &Ligas research (2003). Indeed, while hoarders have, as a main purpose, to keepa product for the reason described above without necessarily have any use forit (Frost 1995).
The packrats state of mind goes a step further. Despitebeing as concerned as hoarders to keep their products for the longest timepossible, packrats are proving themselves to be highly innovative by findingnew ways to extend their products lives (Coulter & Ligas, 2003).In addition, hoarding tendencies have always been perceived as somethingnegative 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 morepositive way. Indeed, this perception is explained in Coulter & Ligasresearch (2003). While relinquishing is often perceived as a painful process inthe eyes of compulsive hoarders (Tolin & al, 2008), one of the key conceptsfor packrats, when relinquishing their product, is to make sure the product willget available for someone else’s needs.
Therefore, instead of simply throwingaway previous belongings, packrats will often donate their belongings to others(e.g. charities, family member, community projects). By doing so, they’remaking sure their belongings will be placed in a new home. That step of thedisposal process being rather important for packrats as they need to be surethe symbolic and intrinsic value of their products will be evident to the newowner (Coulter & Ligas 2003). Moreover, despite facing some major similarities with one another,compulsive hoarding and packrats cannot be considered as the same disposition tendenciesas long as they do not trigger similar emotions within the subject.
Indeed,while compulsive hoarding can often be perceived as a real burden for someindividual forcing them to keep the product they no longer have any use for butare yet incapable to relinquish (Frost, 1995). The packrats are perceivingtheir disposition behavior as something likely to bring a sense of happiness intheir lives (Price et al. 2000). In addition, packrats tend to keep theirbelongings for reasons that could be considered as more acceptable in currentsociety as they always find ways to create new technical applications whileshowing constant innovation. Furthermore, Coulter & Ligas research (2003) also explains thatpackrat products often turn to become an extension of themselves which, in duetime, give the item the ability to trigger memories in the subject and thereforeprovide the product with a strong intrinsic value.
On the other hand,compulsive hoarders, despite having similar tendencies to keep products becauseof their intrinsic values, hold to their belonging for other reasons such astraumatic 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) aspectsare likely to intervene in the individual development of a compulsive hoardingdisorders (Frost, 1995; Strahilevtiz & Loewenstein,1998; Burke, Conn &Lutz, 1978, Frost, 1995; Vigouroux, 2008; Jacoby, 1979). However, several ofthose psychological and social factors finds their origins in the uncertaintyconsumers might have toward future events as described by Smith and Hunt(1985).
In addition, Cherrier & Ponnor (2010), also highlighted theimportance fear plays in the hoarding disorder phenomenon, as traumatic eventslie at the very roots of what triggers compulsive hoarding disorders. Thisanalysis of the different psychological and social aspects related to hoardingtendencies might also hold interests for private companies as it gives apartial answer, on how compulsive hoarding can be triggered within the consumer’smind (Grisham & al, 2006; Frost, 2012). In fact, consumers are more likelyto develop hoarding tendencies toward products they considered a part ofthemselves or product that holds an intrinsic value to them (Beggan, 1992;Ligas, 2000).Finally, despite now having some answers on the social and psychologicalaspects which are likely to trigger’s compulsive hoarding, we still need toapproach the other aspect of impulsive disposal. In order to address thematters on impulsive disposal and fully comprehend the psychological and socialaspects of those extreme disposition patterns, this literature review willhave, in the following chapter, to adresss the same issues on compulsivedecluterring. Office1Add reference