Publication Date

2014-10-24

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2014-10-24

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2014-09-24

First Committee Member

Kiara R. Timpano

Second Committee Member

Amishi Jha

Third Committee Member

Neena Malik

Abstract

Hoarding is a debilitating disorder that has gained increasing interest in recent years, contributing to its re-classification as a discrete condition. However, much remains unclear about its underlying mechanisms of risk, though evidence implicates information processing deficits. In particular, the domain of inattention has been highlighted in extant clinical and phenomenological studies, though neuropsychological lab tests have produced largely mixed findings. The current study aimed to clarify the nature of attentional deficits by conducting a multi-method investigation, including an eye-tracking task designed to target distractibility, along with a sorting task as a behavioral measure of hoarding. Results indicated that self-reported attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms significantly predicted self-reported hoarding symptoms, though associations did not hold after controlling for general mood and anxiety levels. Reaction time on the distractibility task was associated with both the time taken to sort commonly hoarded objects, and the urge to acquire trivial items. An interaction effect of image type by hoarding symptom group was also observed, such that participants high on hoarding spent longer viewing distractor images than did those low on hoarding, in comparison to viewing a blank control screen. Findings are discussed in light of potential explanations, in addition to implications for future research to help clarify underlying attentional deficits.

Keywords

hoarding; ADHD; information processing; attention deficits

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