The relationship between self-control deficits and hoarding: A multimethod investigation across three samples

Kiara R. Timpano, Norman B. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Self-control is the capacity to exert control over one's behavior and is necessary for directing personal behavior toward achieving goals. Self-control has been described as operating within a resource model, and a lack of self-control has been posited as a process that may impact the development or maintenance of various forms of psychopathology. Hoarding disorder is one phenomenon wherein self-control may play a substantial role, and this investigation represents the first empirical evaluation of self-control in relation to hoarding symptoms. Across three independent studies, we found that lower levels of self-control were robustly linked to greater hoarding symptoms. Study 1 (N = 484) examined the strength of the relationship in a large nonclinical sample, and found that low levels of self-control were strongly associated with greater hoarding symptoms. This relationship remained significant despite controlling for covariates, including general depression and anxiety symptoms, specific anxiety symptomatology, and symptoms linked to impulse control deficits. These findings were replicated in Study 2 (N = 135), where we compared levels of self-control in individuals with clinical hoarding, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Study 3 (N = 102) was an experimental investigation that considered the impact of a self-control manipulation on a behavioral index of hoarding symptoms. We found that depleting self-control resources was associated with an increase in subsequent saving behaviors. The implications of self-control for hoarding are discussed from a vulnerability standpoint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-25
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Experimental design
  • Hoarding
  • Resource model
  • Self-control
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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