ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202301.0412.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: tidying compulsion; washing compulsion; ordring/arranging compulsion; difficulty in stopping; incompleteness feelings
Online: 23 January 2023 (10:42:34 CET)
The dominant view of cleaning compulsion as a dimension of OCD is that it is motivated by contamination anxiety. However, in daily life, much cleaning is undertaken as part of tidying one’s home. Such cleaning as well as the other tidying chores may equally assume obsessive-compulsive proportions. However, empirical interest in this phenomenon has remained sparse so far. This article aims to increase awareness of this ill-acknowledged symptom cluster among OCD researchers and to invite them to investigate it. After the introduction, clinical evidence for this OCD dimension is dealt with. Next, empirical studies with OCD inventories, which contain items referring to compulsive tidying, are discussed. Two of these made use of an OCD-inventory, devised by the present author. These also provide the data for the main investigation to be discussed in this paper. In that latter study, six OCD-item clusters, among which tidying compulsion, are predicted. These predictions are tested by evaluating and comparing the item-cluster correlations of all six clusters. These also offer a basis to optimize the clusters toward more homogeneous and distinct ones. By comparing predicted with final clusters, the items can be qualified as either hits, false positives, or false negatives. This output provides the details for revising the predictions, but also allows for calculating the values of two global “goodness-of-fit” measures for each predicted cluster. Though the results do not completely endorse the predicted composition of part of the clusters in the second sample, tidying compulsion is doing rather well. To determine the incidence of tidying compulsion based on the cluster scores, decisions had to be made about what constitute a cluster score, how its gravity can be estimated, and what should be the cut-off per cluster to divide the sample into clinical and subclinical cases on each cluster. If these ‒ unavoidably arbitrary ‒ decisions are accepted, both samples show an incidence of tidying compulsion of around 25%. After a brief critical evaluation of all discussed studies, it is concluded that the evidence presented, though modest, is solid enough to warrant further research into tidying compulsion.