An Experimental Investigation of the Effect of Stress on Saving and Acquiring Behavioral Tendencies: The Role of Distress Tolerance and Negative Urgency

Ashley M. Shaw, Kiara R Timpano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stress has been implicated as a risk factor for hoarding, although past research has relied on cross-sectional and self-report designs. Using experimental methods and objective hypothetical behavioral hoarding paradigms, we investigated the direct effect of stress on in-the-moment saving and acquiring behavioral tendencies. We also evaluated whether distress tolerance (DT) and negative urgency interacted with stress to predict saving and acquiring behavioral tendencies. A sample of young adults (N= 80) completed questionnaires about DT and negative urgency. Participants were randomized to either a psychosocial stressor or nonstressful control task prior to completing two hypothetical behavioral hoarding paradigms. The discarding task asked participants to choose between saving and disposing of items. For the acquiring task, participants completed a computer-simulated shopping spree that measured items acquired. Unexpectedly, participants in the stress condition saved and acquired fewer items than those in the control condition. As hypothesized, stress interacted with DT to predict saving tendencies. The current study should be replicated in a clinical sample. Longitudinal studies are needed to further examine the long-term effect of stress on hoarding. This is the first examination of the direct effect of stress on saving and acquiring tendencies. Although some study hypotheses were not supported, several results are consistent with our predictions and suggest a complex relationship between stress and hoarding. If findings are replicated in a clinical sample, it may be that hoarding patients could benefit from treatments incorporating DT strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-129
Number of pages14
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Keywords

  • Distress tolerance
  • Hoarding
  • Stress
  • Stress manipulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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