There’s evidence people may impulsively hoard more than they need, if they fear it may not be available at least for a while in future. This is different from compulsive hoarding where the objects may have no intrinsic value.
However the dynamics are the similar and there are lessons we can gain by comparing the two.
Hoarding seems to be a natural response in times of imagined or real shortages. Britain became a ‘nation of hoarders’ during the second world war and some of us are still hoarding after Brexit happened.
Many animals also cache food for future consumption. The Sun reports that polar bears have started burying kills in ice which is a departure from previous behaviour. Perhaps they sense something is about to change.
Will the Covid-19 Coronavirus Trigger a Food Hoarding Response?
We don’t really understand why people hoard unnecessary possessions, even junk. However, psychologists suggest this gives them a measure of comfort, a sense of stability, and even fond memories. We all hang on to things we will never use again, even the most ‘normal’ of us.
There’s news in The Sun that Australians are ‘hoarding gas masks and even weapons like swords, tasers and axes’ as a response to the Covid-19 coronavirus threat.
This is sensational stuff over the top; however it does indicate that pressure can trigger sudden hoarding behaviour. There’s an echo of compulsive hoarding in this. Many behaviourists believe a traumatic event like loss of a spouse may trigger compulsive hoarding too.
Newsweek may think things over several before it publishes and is a reliable source. It spoke to a virologist at University of Queensland, Australia who blogged now is the time to slowly fill a ‘pandemic box’ with items that won’t go off. This is despite the fact that he says ‘the disease may become a pandemic but it may not be severe’.
What Does This Mean in Cold Scientific Terms?
Science portal Research Gate published a paper on how consumers react to perceived shortages created by suppliers. Scientists from Universities of Illinois, Springfield, and University of Nebraska at Lincoln interviewed 21 fast fashion store managers, consumers, and an industry expert face to face.
All the persons they interviewed agreed ‘fast fashion stores were successful in creating perceived scarcity which reflected both limited merchandise supply, as well as deliberate manipulation of merchandise availability by the retailer’. This created urgency in the minds of consumers, who were more likely to purchase available stocks.
Tying This Back to Our Topic, Compulsive Hoarding
Mayo Clinic defines hoarding disorder as a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them for a rainy day. Persons with the condition become extremely anxious at the thought of losing possessions regardless of actual value.
Our detour into seasonal shortages helps us understand why compulsive hoarding is rational behaviour in the mind of the hoarder. Hoarders are not ‘crazy people we should put into care’. They simply see the world differently from us, and to them hoarding is a natural thing to do. We carry out hoarder house clearance in Abbey Wood