Experiential avoidance mediates the association between thought suppression and mindfulness with problem gambling

Abstract

Experiential avoidance (EA) has been shown to be an important etiological and maintenance factor in a wide range psychopathology that includes addictive, anxiety, depressive and impulse control disorders. One common form of EA is thought suppression. Problem gambling causes enormous problems for afflicted individuals and has major social costs for their families and the community. Despite increasing interest in the contribution of EA to a broad range of psychological problems, its association with problem gambling has not previously been empirically investigated. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the relationship between EA, thought suppression, and mindfulness among a group of 103 treatment seeking problem gamblers. Of particular interest was the extent to which EA accounted for the relationships between problem gambling and the two theoretically opposing constructs: thought suppression and mindfulness. Results showed EA was predictive of problem gambling. Thought suppression was positively associated and mindfulness negatively associated with problem gambling, and these relationships were mediated by EA. Directions for future research are suggested which include the application of treatments for problem gambling that undermine EA, such as acceptance and mindfulness based therapies.

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