The influence of fear of regret on hoarding symptom severity


  • Kiran Roy McMaster University


Hoarding Disorder (HD) is a mental disorder characterized by difficulty discarding objects, excessive acquiring of objects, and clutter of objects that may impede day-to-day life (Frost & Hartl, 1996; Shaw et al., 2015). Previous research discovered that many individuals with HD also struggle with experiential avoidance (EA), or the unwillingness to remain in contact with negative emotional states (McHugh & Otto, 2012; Norberg et al., 2019). However, fear of a specific emotion, regret, has not been explored despite theoretical links between fear of regret (FoR) and hoarding. The present study aims to address whether FoR (as well as the general tendency to experience regret) predicts HD severity above and beyond experiential avoidance. During intake at the Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital, participants (N=261) completed the Saving Inventory-Revised (SI-R, Frost et al., 2004), the Brief Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire (BEAQ; Gamez et al., 2014), the Regret Scale from the Regret and Maximization Scale (Schwartz et al., 2022), and the Fear of Regret in Discarding measure (Author & Author, 2020) to assess HD symptom severity, EA, the tendency to experience regret and FoR respectively. Prediction of HD hoarding severity was assessed through hierarchical linear regression. Results indicate that EA accounted for 7.4%, F(1,249) = 20.94, p < .001 of the variance in HD severity, while an additional 30.9% of the variance is accounted for by FoR, F(2,248) = 56.78, p = <0.001. Regret accounted for an additional 11.4% of the variance of HD severity above EA, F(2,247) = 17.01, p < 0.001. Therefore, FoR may be a more powerful predictor of HD severity than EA, and may have a more predictive role in HD severity than the general tendency to experience regret. Regret and FoR may be two distinct constructs that have unique influences on HD severity.

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