Higher Trait Levels of Guilt may Protect Against Gambling, Whereas Higher State Levels Lead to Riskier Behaviour

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Vivas A.B.
Sotirios Stournaras
Paul G. Overton
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Springer Cham
Research on the role of affect in problem gambling remains scarce to date, although it has been proposed that trait-levels of negative self-conscious emotions (SCEs) could be potential risk factors. We report two studies investigating the relationship between negative SCEs, gambling, and risky behavior. In the first study, we investigated shame, guilt and self-disgust in a group of problem-gamblers and control non-gamblers. In the second study, we investigated if experimentally manipulating state levels of guilt, using a narration-induction paradigm, in students with different levels of gambling behavior, would influence their behavior in the Balloon Analog Risk Task. We found that problem gamblers had significantly lower trait-levels of guilt when we adjusted for the influence of depression and anxiety symptoms (p = .008). Problem gamblers also exhibited lower levels of shame, but this difference seemed to be driven by guilt. Lower levels of guilt were significantly associated with higher levels of trait impulsivity (p = .004). In the second study, gamblers had higher state levels of guilt than non-gamblers at the outset, and the narration paradigm successfully induced guilt (p = .001). After the guilt induction, the group of gamblers had significantly less risky behaviour (lower number of pumps) than the group of non-gamblers (p = .021). However, this was primarily driven by an increase in risky behaviour in the non-gamblers (p = .006). Thus, overall our findings suggest that higher trait levels of guilt may act as a protective factor for gambling, whereas high state levels of guilt lead to riskier behaviour but only in people who are not gamblers.
Vivas, Ana & Stournaras, Sotirios & Paraskevopoulos, Alexandros & Overton, Paul. (2022). Higher Trait Levels of Guilt may Protect Against Gambling, Whereas Higher State Levels Lead to Riskier Behaviour. Journal of Gambling Studies. 38. 1-18. 10.1007/s10899-021-10041-2.