Gender differences in self-conscious emotions and motivation to quit gambling

Abstract

Considerable gender differences have been previously noted in the prevalence, etiology, and clinical features of problem gambling. While differences in affective states between men and women in particular, may explain differential experiences in the process of gambling, the role of affect in motivations for quitting gambling and recovery has not been thoroughly explored. The aim of this study was to examine gender differences within a sample of problem gamblers motivated to quit with or without formal treatment, and further, to explore the interactions between gender, shame and guilt-proneness, and autonomous versus controlled reasons for change. Motivation for change and self-conscious emotional traits were analyzed for 207 adult problem gamblers with an interest in quitting or reducing their gambling (96.6 % not receiving treatment). Overall, gender differences were not observed in clinical and demographic characteristics. However, women exhibited greater shame [F(1,204) = 12.11, p = 0.001] and guilt proneness [F(1,204) = 14.16, p < 0.001] compared to men, whereas men scored higher on trait detachment [F(1,204) = 7.08, p = 0.008]. Controlling for demographic and clinical characteristics, general linear models revealed that autonomous motivation for change was associated with higher guilt-proneness, greater problem gambling severity, and the preparation stage of change; whereas controlled forms of motivation were significantly associated with higher shame-proneness and greater problem gambling severity. No gender effects were observed for either motivation for change. These findings suggest that the process of change can be different for shame-prone and guilt-prone problem gamblers, which may impact behavioral outcomes.

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