Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 919–936 | Cite as

Does the General Strain Theory Explain Gambling and Substance Use?

  • Romy Greco
  • Antonietta Curci
Original Paper


General Strain Theory (GST: Agnew Criminology 30:47–87, 1992) posits that deviant behaviour results from adaptation to strain and the consequent negative emotions. Empirical research on GST has mainly focused on aggressive behaviours, while only few research studies have considered alternative manifestations of deviance, like substance use and gambling. The aim of the present study is to test the ability of GST to explain gambling behaviours and substance use. Also, the role of family in promoting the adoption of gambling and substance use as coping strategies was verified. Data from 266 families with in mean 8 observations for each group were collected. The multilevel nature of the data was verified before appropriate model construction. The clustered nature of gambling data was analysed by a two-level Hierarchical Linear Model while substance use was analysed by Multivariate Linear Model. Results confirmed the effect of strain on gambling and substance use while the positive effect of depressive emotions on these behaviours was not supported. Also, the impact of family on the individual tendency to engage in addictive behaviours was confirmed only for gambling.


Strain event Negative emotion Substance use Family addiction 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LawLibera Università SS Maria Assunta (LUMSA)TarantoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Education, Psychology, CommunicationUniversity of BariBariItaly

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