Anxious attachment and excessive acquisition: the mediating roles of anthropomorphism and distress intolerance

Melissa M. Norberg*, Cassandra Crone, Cathy Kwok, Jessica R. Grisham

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)
    43 Downloads (Pure)


    Background and aims: Most individuals with hoarding disorder (HD) are prone to excessively acquiring new possessions. Understanding the factors that contribute to this collecting behavior will allow us to develop better treatment approaches for HD. The aim of this study was to test our assumption that an anxious attachment style is associated with a tendency to anthropomorphize comforting objects and an inability to tolerate distress, which in turn leads to excessive acquisition. Methods: A total of 361 participants with subclinical to clinical acquisition problems (77.8% female) completed a series of self-report measures. Results: As expected, greater anxious attachment was related to greater distress intolerance and stronger tendencies to anthropomorphize inanimate objects. In turn, greater distress intolerance and anthropomorphism were related to more excessive buying and greater acquisition of free items. Examination of the pathways and indirect effects showed support for double mediation rather than serial mediation, as distress intolerance did not predict anthropomorphism. Discussion and conclusion: These novel findings, if replicated, suggest that adding treatment modules that target improving distress tolerance and reducing anthropomorphism to standard treatment for HD may lead to further reductions in excessive acquiring.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)171-180
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • insecure attachment
    • hoarding disorder
    • emotion regulation
    • emotion dysregulation
    • maladaptive beliefs


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