Gratitude, hope, mindfulness and personal-growth initiative: Buffers or risk factors for problem gambling?


The majority of prevention and intervention research in problem gambling (PG) has focused on identifying negative risk factors. However, not all at-risk individuals go on to develop anticipated disorders and many thrive in spite of them. In healthcare settings, PG and other disorders are typically conceptualized from the biomedical perspective that frame disorders as something negative residing within the individual and reduction in negativity is seen as success. Indeed, this problem-focused conceptualization may be adequate in many cases as reducing PG behaviour is undoubtedly an important outcome, but the focus on negativity alone is too narrow to capture the complexity of human behaviour. Hence, this study attempts to bridge the gap in literature by providing an evaluation of the predictive ability of the positive dispositions on problem gambling severity, gambling-related cognitions, and gambling urges. The positive psychological dispositions examined were curiosity, gratitude, hope, personal growth initiative, and mindfulness. Participants consisted of 801 Taiwanese Chinese students and community individuals (Mean age = 25.36 years). Higher levels of gratitude and hope have been found to predict lower PG, gambling-related cognitions, or gambling urges. Meanwhile, higher mindfulness predicted lower PG, but only among Chinese males. However, lower personal growth initiative predicted lower PG, gambling-related cognitions, and gambling urges. These analyses have small to medium effect sizes with significant predictions. Findings of this study have essential implications in understanding and treating Chinese problem gamblers. These positive dispositions should be addressed by mental health professionals in preventative and treatment programs among Chinese individuals. Further implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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