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Description: Are you in your room or in your home or apartment? If you are, look around and if you are not, close your eyes and call up an honest image of what it usually looks like. So? Is it tidy and neat or stacked and cluttered (or creatively flung about)? Also, is that state entirely your own doing (you live alone) or did you have help, or do you just have that sort of room mate and it has nothing to do with you at all? Well, regardless of how you answered those questions think, psychologically for a moment about what sorts of characteristics, personality factors or behavioral tendencies (of YOURS) the degree of clutter in your living spaces might be related to and then have a read through the article linked below to see what psychological researchers might have to tell you about yourself based the degree of clutter in your living spaces.

Source: The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter, Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Mind, The New York Times.

Date: January 3, 2019


 Article Link: and

So, clutter correlates, in psychology research, with a tendency to procrastinate (no real surprise there) but also with stress and increasing life dissatisfaction with age. Cluttered living spaces add most stress to the person who feels responsible for it or who thinks they are viewed as responsible for dealing with it suggesting that there are some gender related stigma attached to clutter that should be addressed both personally and in relationships. The note about the possibility of over-attachment to some of our objects making it hard to declutter is interesting as well. That was certainly some thing that was often shown in that spate of television shows showing interventions with hoarders who seemed to do better with the exit of their hoard if they did not handle much of it throughout the process ( It is worth thinking a bit about how we relate to our things, especially when they start to pile up and threaten to overwhelm us.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does your level of living space clutter (from non-existent to high) relate top how you feel, especially when you are supposed to be relaxing and de- stressing in the evening?
  2. How might you figure out if the stated relationships between clutter, stress and wellbeing are causal or correlational?
  3. The television shows I mentioned from a few years ago showing interventions, by relatives and usually up against threatened evictions, of hoarders showed a clearly disordered pattern of behavior. Is there a relationship between clutter and hoarding and if so what sort of relationship is it (one of degree or is there a qualitative distinction)?

References (Read Further):

Ferrari, J. R., & Roster, C. A. (2018). Delaying disposing: examining the relationship between procrastination and clutter across generations. Current Psychology, 37(2), 426-431.

Ferrari, J. R. (2018). Introduction to “Procrastination, Clutter, & Hoarding”. Current Psychology, 37(2), 424-425.

Saxbe, D., & Repetti, R. L. (2010). For better or worse? Coregulation of couples’ cortisol levels and mood states. Journal of personality and social psychology, 98(1), 92.

Saxbe, D. E., & Repetti, R. (2010). No place like home: Home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(1), 71-81.

Frost, R. O., Steketee, G., & Tolin, D. F. (2011). Comorbidity in hoarding disorder. Depression and anxiety, 28(10), 876-884.

Frost, R. O., Steketee, G., & Grisham, J. (2004). Measurement of compulsive hoarding: saving inventory-revised. Behaviour research and therapy, 42(10), 1163-1182.

de la Cruz, L. F., Nordsletten, A. E., Billotti, D., & Mataix‐Cols, D. (2013). PHOTOGRAPH‐AIDED ASSESSMENT OF CLUTTER IN HOARDING DISORDER: IS A PICTURE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS?. Depression and anxiety, 30(1), 61-66.

Frost, R. O., Hristova, V., Steketee, G., & Tolin, D. F. (2013). Activities of daily living scale in hoarding disorder. Journal of obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, 2(2), 85-90.