Public Perception of Hoarding
Dresden, Alex; Svanevik, Stephanie; Hoopes, Kristen; Appel, Brian; Ricks, Marie C.; Francis, Steve; Cai, Mengfei; Hardy, Sam
Hoarding is defined as (1) the acquisition of, and failure to, discard a large number of possessions that appear to be of limited value, (2) living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which these spaces were designed, (3) significant impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding, and (4) reluctance to return borrowed items. The average age of onset for hoarders is 11-15 years of age, with most hoarders reporting symptoms before age 20. Our research sought to find correlations regarding public perceptions of hoarding, including demographic, personal, and socioeconomic factors. Using a 55-question online survey and taking advantage of social networking and byu.sona-systems.com, we gathered pertinent information regarding hoarding perceptions and hoarding self-identification from 769 participants. The research results indicate that public perceptions of hoarding and personal identification as a hoarder were both positively correlated with age, gender, education, and income. In addition, those that knew hoarders and those who identified themselves as hoarders were positively correlated with knowledge of treatment options, potential pursuit of those treatments, and belief that treatment could be successful as they aged. Thus, we propose early life education programs regarding hoarding, especially if targeted to appropriate audiences, as an influential factor in reducing hoarding behaviors.