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Background and aims Object attachment is a core feature of hoarding disorder (HD), but it also occurs in people without HD. It is therefore critical to clarify differences between normal and abnormal object attachment. Although previous studies show that HD is associated with high emotional reactivity, no study to date has examined the nature and intensity of discrete emotions in people with and without HD in relation to object attachment. Method Individuals with HD (n = 93) and matched controls (n = 93) were recruited via MTurk. They identified and described a possession of low monetary value that they were emotionally attached to and found difficult to discard. Participants rated their object attachment and the intensity of emotions when imagining being with the object (Scenario A) and irretrievably losing the same object (Scenario B). Results Unexpectedly, there were no significant between-group differences on object attachment; however, the HD group experienced more incongruent emotions about their possessions; they reported significantly higher disgust, anxiety and anger than controls when they imagined being with their chosen object (Scenario A) and were more relaxed compared to controls when the object was lost (Scenario B). There were no significant differences between groups on congruent emotions (i.e., positive emotions in Scenario A or negative emotions in Scenario B). Conclusion People with and without HD experience similar emotional attachment for sentimental items but people with HD experience more mixed emotions, consistent with an insecure object attachment.


School of Behavioural and Health Sciences

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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