A Virtual Reality Study of the Relationships Between Hoarding, Clutter, and Claustrophobia
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Hoarding disorder is characterized by difficulty discarding objects and excessive clutter. The relationship between hoarding and claustrophobia, reactions to severely cluttered spaces, and clutter preferences are all areas that are yet to be investigated. The present study used a novel virtual reality (VR) platform to examine these domains. Two groups (i.e., with hoarding disorder, n = 36; without hoarding disorder, n = 40) similar in age and gender were recruited from the community. There were no differences in subjective or physiological reactivity to increasing VR clutter levels. The hoarding group reported a preference for slightly more cluttered VR rooms; however, they also reported higher claustrophobic fear. Results from this research advance our understanding of the relationship between hoarding symptoms and subjective experiences of clutter and offer implications for future VR research and treatment initiatives.
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