Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 1067–1079 | Cite as

An Investigation of the Association Between Shame and Problem Gambling: The Mediating Role of Maladaptive Coping Motives

  • Hera E. Schlagintweit
  • Kara Thompson
  • Abby L. Goldstein
  • Sherry H. StewartEmail author
Original Paper


Despite often being considered equivalent affective states, shame and guilt have differential associations with problem gambling with only shame showing a strong positive association with problem gambling. However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying the shame-problem gambling association. Further, shame and guilt are associated with distinct coping strategies, with shame motivating maladaptive coping (e.g., avoidance, escape) and guilt motivating adaptive coping (e.g., taking corrective action). This study aimed to examine whether maladaptive coping motives for gambling mediate the relationship between shame, but not guilt, and gambling problems. Participants were 196 (126 male) regular gamblers who completed a same and guilt scale, the Problem Gambling Severity Index, and a modified Gambling Motives Questionnaire, which assessed individual motives to engage in gambling for coping, enhancement, or social reasons. Results indicated that coping motives for gambling fully mediated the relationship between shame and problem gambling severity, but did not mediate the association between guilt and problem gambling severity. Experiencing shame contributes to problem gambling as a result of gambling to cope with negative affect. Cultivating more adaptive strategies to cope with shame may be effective in preventing and treating problem gambling.


Shame Guilt Problem gambling Gambling motives Coping 



This study was funded by an operating grant from the Manitoba Gambling Research Program (MGRP) awarded to Sherry H. Stewart, Michael Ellery, and Abbey Goldstein. The findings and conclusions of this paper are those solely of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Manitoba Lotteries. A postdoctoral fellowship from the Movember Canada Foundation was awarded to Kara Thompson. The authors would like to thank Ainsley Cloutier, Benjamin Weilgart-Whitehead, Megan Cowie, Michael Ellery, Nadina Mahadeo, Natalie Vilhena-Churchill, Pamela Collins, and Preeyam Parikh for their assistance with data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Compliance with Ethical Requirements

The study received ethical approval from the Dalhousie University Health Sciences Research Ethics Board.

Statement of Human Rights

The study involved human participants and was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Statement on the Welfare of Animals

Animals were not used in the present study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hera E. Schlagintweit
    • 1
  • Kara Thompson
    • 2
  • Abby L. Goldstein
    • 3
  • Sherry H. Stewart
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySt. Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada
  3. 3.Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, Ontario Institute for Studies in EducationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  5. 5.Department of Community Health and EpidemiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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