The Relationship between Traumatic Life Events and Hoarding Symptoms: A Multi-Method Approach

Ashley M. Shaw, Sara M. Witcraft, Kiara R. Timpano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Hoarding Disorder is characterized by difficulties with discarding and frequently excessively acquiring possessions, resulting in substantial clutter. Previous research has implicated trauma in the development of hoarding, but no study to date has examined the relationship between trauma and hoarding using hypothetical hoarding paradigms. This study investigated the association between traumatic events and both self-report and hypothetical indices of hoarding symptoms. We predicted that frequency of trauma would be associated with greater hoarding symptoms (across self-report and hypothetical indices). Undergraduate students (N = 80) completed self-report measures of hoarding symptoms and trauma, and hypothetical measures of acquiring and saving tendencies. As expected, more frequent trauma, and physical/sexual trauma in particular, was associated with greater acquiring tendencies. However, frequency of trauma was not significantly correlated with saving tendencies or self-reported hoarding symptoms. Future research should replicate these findings using longitudinal designs to confirm whether trauma actually serves as a risk factor for hoarding. Replication in a clinical sample is needed to better understand the implications of these results for intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive Behaviour Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016


  • Traumatic life events
  • acquisition
  • hoarding
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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