A Latent Class Analysis of Gambling Activity Patterns in a Canadian University Sample of Emerging Adults: Socio-demographic, Motivational, and Mental Health Correlates
This analysis of gambling habits of Canadian university students (ages 18–25) dovetails two recent developments in the field of gambling studies. First, the popularity of latent class analysis to identify heterogeneous classes of gambling patterns in different populations; second, the validation of the Gambling Motives Questionnaire (with financial motives) among university students—specifically to understand both how and why emerging adults gamble. Our results support a four-class model of gambling activity patterns, consisting of female-preponderant casual and chance-based gambling groups, and male-preponderant skill-based and extensive gambling groups. Each class shows a specific combination of motives, underscoring the necessity for nuanced responses to problem gambling among emerging adults. More specifically, gambling for the skill-based group appears primarily to be a source of thrill and a way to cope; for the chance-based group, gambling appears but one symptom of a set of wider issues involving depression, anxiety, substance use, and low self-esteem; while extensive gamblers seem to seek excitement, sociality, and coping, in that order. Only the chance-based group was significantly more likely than casual gamblers to be motivated by financial reasons. Situating our analysis in the literature, we suggest that interventions for the predominantly male subtypes should address gambling directly (e.g. re-focusing excitement seeking into other activities, instilling more productive coping mechanisms) while interventions for predominantly female subtypes should address low self-esteem in conjunction with depression, substance abuse, and problematic levels of gambling. We conclude future research should focus on links between self-esteem, depression, substance abuse, and financial motives for gambling among female emerging adults.
KeywordsLatent class analysis GMQ-F Self-esteem College students Gendered gambling
This grant was funded by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Grant MGRP-SM-14-13.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All three authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional psychology/Sociology Research Ethics Board (PSREB Protocol #P2014:079) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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