Research plays an important role in ICD's mission to explore, develop and communicate information, organizing techniques and solutions to professional organizers, related professionals and the public. ICD conducts original research and also collaborates with outside researchers. Click here to view our Policy for Collaboration with Outside Researchers. Please contact the ICD Research Director if you have an interest in participating in ICD research or wish to collaborate with ICD on a study.
ICD Research Director
ICD's Research Director is Dr. Catherine A. Roster, Associate Professor at Anderson School of Management, The University of New Mexico. Dr. Roster holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, a master's degree in business administration, and a Ph.D. in marketing from The University of Missouri, Columbia. Her research on the relationship between self-identity and consumption activities, including possession disposal, has been published in a variety of academic journals, including Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Psychology & Marketing, and Advances in Consumer Research. To learn more about ICD research, please contact Dr. Roster at firstname.lastname@example.org
ICD Research - Current Projects
“Hoarding and the Family” In collaboration with Jennifer Sampson, M.S., LMFT
Jennifer Sampson, M.S., LMFT, is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Ms. Sampson is currently conducting a research study titled, "The Influences of Unresolved Trauma and Family Experiences on Compulsive Hoarding Behavior: An Internet Survey." To date, there are no large-scale studies that examine the joint influence that family experiences and unresolved trauma have on the severity of hoarding behavior. The results of this study will be available in the near future.
Development of the Clutter Quality of Life (CQLS) Scale ICD Project led by Dr. Catherine A. Roster, ICD Research Director.
The objective of this ICD research initiative is to develop a scientifically valid self-assessment tool that measures the impact of clutter on an individual's overall quality of life and the consequences of clutter within various life domains. The CQLS scale is about determining the effect clutter has on people's lives, as opposed to labeling people as “hoarders,” “pack-rats” or other terms used by current self-assessment tools.
The CQLS is designed to measure inward evidence of the effects of clutter from the individual's perspective. This self-assessment tool can be used alongside ICD's Clutter Hoarding Scale which is a widely recognized observational instrument, to create a more complete picture of the consequences of clutter in an individual's life.
The CQLS can be used by professional organizers and related professionals to help them assess clients, engage the client in addressing problems in their lives, pinpoint key problem areas in their lives, and assess progress in making improvements within priority life domains.
The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) wishes to create a scientifically validated self-assessment tool individuals can use to assess the impact of clutter and disorganization on their life. Most individuals experience negative consequences to their quality of life as a result of clutter and disorganization. It is people's "felt experience" with these consequences that determines their cumulative impact on quality of life. For all questions in this survey, clutter is defined as "an overabundance of possessions." The intended purpose of this assessment tool is to help individuals assess for themselves the degree to which clutter and disorganization is affecting their quality of life. ICD offers educational and organization resources designed to help people take control over clutter and make their lives more productive and happy.
ICD appreciates your voluntary participation in the development and validation of this self-assessment tool! This survey will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Please respond honestly to all questions. Your responses are completely anonymous. All responses will be collectively tabulated in summary format for the purposes of developing this scale and for that purpose only. You will not be asked to divulge any personal information and you will not be forced to answer any question(s) that you do not wish to answer. If you have any questions or concerns about this study, please contact ICD's Research Director at email@example.com.
Thank you for your participation in this important study! Results from this study will be published on ICD's website. To proceed to the survey, please click on the link below:
“The Secret Lives of Objects” In collaboration with Corinne Botz
Corinne Botz is a Brooklyn-based artist, professional photographer, and author of the book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (Monacelli Press, 2004). Her work has been featured in numerous art exhibitions, including solo exhibitions at Bellwether Gallery, New York, and Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, D.C and group exhibitions at Jackson Fine Arts, Lombard Fried Gallery, New York, NY, and Wurttembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany. Corinne's work has been reviewed by The New York Times, Village Voice, BookForum and New York Magazine. Her work has been published by New York Magazine, Metropolis, 2wice, Blackbook, and Popular Science. She has taught photography at the International Center of Photography, Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute, College of Art. B.F.A., Maryland Institute, College of Art; and M.F.A. Bard College.
Corinne is currently working on an art project called “The Secret Life of Objects.” This project considers how objects are connected with our memories, our sense of self, and the process of letting go of possessions. The ultimate goal of this project is to shed light on the relationship people have with objects, as well as the act of anonymously gifting sentimental objects to strangers.
Corinne is asking individuals to gift objects for use in this project, along with a personal story from participants that describes the significance of donated objects in their lives and how they felt about parting with these objects. She plans on combining the objects she receives to create shrine-like sculptures. Later, she will exhibit the sculpture, or photograph the sculpture and exhibit the photographs. ICD professional organizers submitted objects and stories donated from their clients who volunteered to assist with this project. To learn more about the Secret Lives of Objects art project, please visit Corinne's blog at http://secretlifeofobjects.tumblr.com.
ICD Research - Past Projects
Fathers of Children with ADHD [2011-2012]
ICD collaborated with Abigail Mintz, MS, who at the time was a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park, to recruit participants for her dissertation research involving fathers of children with ADHD. This study was designed to learn more about the experiences of fathers of children (age 5-12) who have ADHD or undiagnosed significant attention/disruptive behavior problems. As little is known about parenting behaviors, especially those of fathers, this study provides knowledge that can improve treatment for families of children with ADHD. ICD widely disseminated a link to a web survey to subscribers that encouraged qualified participants to take the survey. Results indicated that paternal antisocial personality disorder symptoms, rather than ADHD symptoms, were robustly associated with child conduct problems and that paternal negative parenting mediated this relationship.
Safe Passage Strategies Used by Professional Organizers [2008-2009]
This ICD study, led by Catherine A. Roster, Ph.D., examined factors and strategies used by professional organizers to help clients let go of possessions. Ninety-four ICD subscribers provided case descriptions of clients who found it extremely difficult to let go of their possessions. Findings revealed a paradigm based on context, conditions, strategies, and consequences revolving around a central theme best described as achieving “Safe Passage.” Safe Passage appeared to represent a peaceful state of mind clients realized from successfully navigating the emotional, cognitive, and decision-making challenges associated with letting go of meaningful goods. Safe Passage was aided by the organizer's experience, emotional intelligence skills, and personal relationship with the client, but hampered by numerous extraneous factors related to the client's physical, cognitive, or emotional state and his or her external environment.
Survey of Organizing Techniques Used by Professional Organizers with Chronically Disorganized Clients 
This ICD study, led by Kit Anderson, former ICD Research Director, examined the frequency of use of the organizing techniques originally proposed for CD clients by Judith Kolberg in What Every Organizer Should Know About Chronic Disorganization. The study sought to determine which of these techniques were most often used by ICD subscribers and other professional organizers. Findings were that “body doubling” was by far the most used technique, followed by avoiding “tactile sympathy.” About half used “maintenance sessions,” “recommending support services,” “treasure hunting,” “sampling/playing favorites,” and “shrines.” Just under half regularly used the “muttering game” and usage of other techniques was much lower.
Development of a Chronic Disorganization Inventory [2006-2007]
ICD collaborated with Sharon Mintz, MS, who at the time was a doctoral student at Fordham University, in a project to develop a Chronic Disorganization Inventory. ICD placed a link on our web site to a survey measuring the extent and type of chronic disorganization, and sent an email to all subscribers asking them to encourage their CD clients to take the on-line survey. Results indicated that the 60-item Chronic Disorganization Inventory is a psychometrically sound instrument that can be used to assess the level and subtypes of chronic disorganization. After further analysis the tool will be made available to professional organizers.
Decision Making Among Elderly Clients with Hoarding and Clutter-related Issues [2005-2006]
ICD collaborated with Monika Eckfield Petross, RN, MSN, who at the time was a doctoral student at the University of California at San Francisco School of Nursing, to conduct a pilot study designed to explore the experience of elderly individuals with hoarding and cluttering behaviors. ICD professional organizers distributed a brochure to their CD clients and encouraged them to participate in the pilot study. Findings were that all participants in the study struggled with decision making. A variety of reasons for decision-making difficulties were given by participants, including a fear of making mistakes, inability to prioritize, the struggle between emotional attachment and logical decisions, and others.