Publication Date

2017-05-26

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2017-05-26

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2016-06-13

First Committee Member

Kiara R. Timpano

Second Committee Member

Jennifer C. Britton

Third Committee Member

Charles S. Carver

Fourth Committee Member

Brian D. Doss

Fifth Committee Member

Bonnie Levin

Abstract

Hoarding disorder (HD) is marked by difficulty discarding, acquisition of items, and clutter. Cognitive-behavioral theories emphasize the role of intense negative and positive emotions in maintaining hoarding behaviors. Difficulties with emotional reactivity and regulation may play a critical role in HD’s etiology and may also represent important treatment targets. Despite the strong theoretical rationale, past research on emotional reactivity and regulation in relation to hoarding has been marked by methodological limitations, including sampling design, and only two studies have examined positive emotions in HD. We conducted a multi-method examination of emotional regulation and reactivity in persons with HD, collectors, and healthy controls. We predicted that in response to a negative emotion induction, hoarding severity would be associated with (1) greater emotional reactivity to emotion inductions; (2) more suppression, distraction, and rumination and less reappraisal. In response to a positive emotion induction, we predicted more savoring and less dampening of positive emotions. Finally, we further predicted that greater saving and acquiring tendencies would be associated with more emotional reactivity during behavioral hoarding tasks. We found that hoarding symptoms were linked to negative emotional reactivity and more use of rumination, distraction, and suppression during the negative emotion induction. Heightened positive emotional reactivity was associated with acquiring more items. Depression emerged as an important covariate. Longitudinal investigations are needed to further clarify whether emotional reactivity and regulation increase risk and/or maintain hoarding symptoms.

Keywords

Hoarding; Negative emotions; Positive Emotions; Emotional Reactivity; Emotion Regulation

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