Show Details

Collecting & Hoarding

December 28, 2011

A listener asks why some people become collectors and hoarders.



What’s behind collecting? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

TV shows like “Antiques Road Show” and “Hoarders” have brought collecting and hoarding to popular consciousness. Listener Winifred Creamer of Wheaton, Illinois wants to know why some people become collectors or hoarders, and if the two behaviors are related. We consulted psychiatric researcher Ashley Keller of King’s College, London. She says that 30% of the adult population has some sort of collection, and 2 to 5% are hoarders, but no one yet knows what might be driving either behavior. However, some people report that a traumatic event may have preceeded their hoarding. And while some hoarders are also collectors, collections tend to be made up of interrelated items, which are highly organized, and often displayed with pride.

ASHLEY KELLER (King’s College, London):

Whereas with hoarding, you’re going to see a large admixture of items, it’s really typified by disorganization.


She says hoarders also feel a great deal of embarrassment about their behavior and report that it impairs their daily life. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAS, the science society.