In the United States, even though the birth rate is falling, the size of houses is getting bigger and bigger. The change seems to prevent people from being able to keep all their possessions, which ends up promoting hoarding. The demand for houses with large closets, for example, has grown with each passing day.
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There are also a lot of people who turn bedrooms into large closets or storage rooms for things. According to some sources consulted, about 10% of Americans rent storage units to solve the space problem. So it’s possible to say that the line between healthy and pathological buying behavior is very thin, if you take these points into account.
Psychologists now face the issue of differentiating between hoarders and collectors, as this is a problem that affects about 30% of adults. In London, they carried out studies with a few different methods. We interviewed 29 participants with an Accumulation Disorder and another 20 people who call themselves collectors. During the analysis, the researchers were able to notice some differences between them.
See 12 ways to differentiate
It was possible to observe that collectors are focused on a specific type of object while accumulators collected and kept different things. Collectors grouped six types of objects while others collected an average of 15.
Those who prized a collection thought through and carefully organized all the items. Hoarders did not plan or arrange objects. It didn’t matter exactly where they ended up.
3. Excessive acquisition
Hoarders buy or keep twice the number of items collectors do, despite both being struggling with over-acquisition of objects and things. However, it was possible to see that the collectors delimit a space for the collections. Others let it all pile up all over the house for years.
Collectors carefully organize what has been acquired, but not accumulators! Which results in disorder and even harm to them.
Some reported enjoying this process of collecting, searching and buying objects. Others admitted feelings of distress and disorder. The only caveat is that some collectors have also pointed out some anguish that comes from other sources, such as the unhappiness of the partner they live with.
6. Social disability
Accumulators present a lot of prejudice and social deficiency in relation to collectors. For them, the loss is small. Something that can be observed during the tests is that the collectors were married and the accumulators were single.
7. Occupational disability
Collectors show a high level of commitment to work. The others don’t.
8. Motivations to collect
Hoarders are more likely to collect than collectors themselves, as they believed that certain items would be useful for the future and because of compulsive shopping as well.
9. Motivations to keep the objects
Both groups have trouble throwing objects away, but it was seen that collectors were more willing to do so as they didn’t want to create waste. It was also noticed that there were some similarities in motivations, such as thinking that the item would be valuable in some way later on or that it was part of their personality or identity.
10. Identification as collector
Half of collectors identified themselves as collectors while all accumulators claimed to be collectors.
11. Other psychiatric conditions
In this case, although very common in both groups, more hoarders had Axis 1 Disorder than collectors.
Finally, it was observed that those who collect are more educated and maintain houses that are larger than those of the accumulators. Past research has found that hoarders tend to have a lower income compared to collectors.