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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Hoarding disorder places significant burdens on healthcare, public services, and financial systems. Much existing research has focused on hoarding as a clinical disorder that needs to be properly diagnosed and treated. The authors’ research contributes to these efforts through basic science research that frames hoarding as an economic decision process, which allows individuals to make resource-allocation decisions on the basis of affective feelings that indirectly signal the supply and stability of resources in the environment. While this is normally an adaptive mechanism, it can become problematic when one’s emotions are chronic or extrinsic to the current decision and, therefore, do not serve as an accurate reflection of resource availability. To support this view, the authors review clinical and nonclinical research showing that the desire to acquire and retain goods is increased by anxiety, stress, obsessive–compulsiveness, impulsivity, and indecisiveness. The authors also review work in neuroscience and behavioral economics that demonstrates how the desire to acquire and retain goods is enhanced by self-relevant processes and uses neural regions that integrate emotional and practical considerations during decision making. Studying hoarding as an economic decision—in a way that integrates psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics—can help to shed light on hoarding as an adaptive phenomenon and a clinical disorder.

Keywords: Hoarding, emotion, decision making, acquisitiveness, endowment, discounting

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