Conferring humanness: The role of anthropomorphism in hoarding

Kiara R. Timpano, Ashley M. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Hoarding is characterized by a persistent and extreme difficulty with discarding one's possessions, often resulting in cluttered living spaces and marked distress or impairment. Despite being increasingly recognized as a substantial public health burden, much remains unknown about the etiology. One facet within the cognitive-behavioral model of hoarding that remains poorly understood is the strong emotional attachment to possessions. The tendency to anthropomorphize (i.e., see human-like qualities in non-human entities) may be one possible mechanism contributing to this emotional attachment. The current report is the first empirical study to examine the association between anthropomorphism and hoarding. Non-clinical participants (n= 72) completed a battery of self-report measures focused on hoarding symptoms, saving cognitions, anthropomorphism, and emotional attachments to personal and novel items. Anthropomorphic tendencies were significantly associated with greater saving behaviors and the acquisition of free things. Levels of anthropomorphism moderated the relationship between specific hoarding beliefs and acquiring tendencies, as well as the emotional attachment towards a novel item. Results are discussed with regard to future research directions, and implications for the cognitive-behavioral model of hoarding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-388
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Anthropomorphism
  • Hoarding
  • Object attachment
  • Saving cognitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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