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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Compulsive hoarding, Anthropomorphism, Loneliness, Hoarding


People with Hoarding Disorder (HD) often report excessive emotional attachment to possessions. This can include describing possessions in anthropomorphic terms. Only two studies to date have examined the relationship between anthropomorphism and hoarding and both of them have found significant associations between the two (Neave et. al. 2014; Timpano and Shaw 2013). However, neither study explored the reason why hoarding individuals might anthropomorphize. The three factor theory of anthropomorphism suggests that people who are lonely seek out anthropomorphism as a buffer. Loneliness has never been studied in the context of HD, but HD has been associated with family problems, increased frequencies of divorce and living alone, and high comorbidity rates with social anxiety; all of these would suggest higher rates of loneliness. The present study sought to better understand the relationship between hoarding, anthropomorphism and loneliness. It was hypothesized that loneliness would moderate the effect of anthropomorphism on hoarding. Additionally, a new measure of anthropomorphism, the Graves Anthropomorphic Task Scale (GATS) was employed to assess anthropomorphizing specific personal possessions and to standardize anthropomorphism across agents. An undergraduate sample completed a battery of questionnaires pertaining to hoarding, loneliness and anthropomorphism. The GATS showed good psychometric properties. Most hoarding symptoms and beliefs were related to anthropomorphism. Hoarding symptoms, but not beliefs, were related to loneliness. Furthermore, loneliness acted as a moderator but only moderated the effect of current anthropomorphism of comfort objects (GATS comfort) on clutter and on emotional attachment and responsibility for possessions. These results support and expand upon the past research on anthropomorphism and hoarding. This study also establishes and supports a new found positive association between hoarding and loneliness.




47 pages : illustrations. Honors project-Smith College, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 27-32)