Greater interpersonal problems differentiate those who excessively acquire and save from those who only excessively acquire possessions

Melissa M. Norberg, Cathy Kwok, Cassandra Crone, Jonathan David, Vani Kakar, Jessica R. Grisham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Maladaptive behaviours involving consumer goods underlie compulsive buying disorder and hoarding disorder, but only hoarding disorder involves a long-term maladaptive emotional attachment to possessions. Excessive object attachment may result from using possessions to manage interpersonal conflict and buffer its corresponding loneliness. The aim of the study was to examine these two groups (acquiring problems only vs acquiring plus discarding problems) with respect to their interpersonal functioning.

One hundred eighty individuals who self-reported acquiring problems participated in the study; 121 of these individuals also had difficulties discarding possessions. Participants completed measures of insecure interpersonal attachment, interpersonal problems, and loneliness.

Participants who had acquiring and discarding problems (i.e., hoarding group) self-reported greater anxious attachment and more interpersonal problems, but not greater loneliness than those who only had an acquiring problem (i.e., compulsive buying group). The positive relationship between an anxious interpersonal attachment style and greater discarding difficulties was mediated by interpersonal difficulties.

These findings suggest that the emotional attachment to possessions central to hoarding disorder may be a function of using possessions to compensate for unmet belongingness needs. If true, treatment outcomes may be improved by helping individuals to strengthen their interpersonal relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100571
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
Early online date15 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • insecure attachment
  • anxious attachment
  • loneliness
  • social behaviour
  • hoarding
  • hoarding disorder
  • compulsive behaviour
  • compulsive buying
  • consumer behaviour


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