University of Guelph Researchers Study Shame and Gambling

 A recent study by researchers at the University of Guelph has found that gamblers feel guilt and shame whenever they lose. The issue worsens with the severity of the individual’s habit, the study finds. 

According to research done by Sunghwan Yi and Vinay Kanetkar, problem gamblers feel more guilt than moderate gamblers when they have a losing session. The feeling of guilt seems to occur across the board, as even low-risk gamblers feel shame when they lose; however, problem gamblers feel worse than the others. As a result, they use avoidant coping mechanisms.

“Shame is experienced when you believe a negative event happened because there’s something inherently wrong with you”, the study reports. “You may think of yourself as a worthless or even bad person”.

The study also finds that, regardless of the negative feelings that occur when gambler experiences a loss, they attempt to rationalize it. A common rationalization is when a player states that they had a positive emotional or physical experience, despite losing. 

As shame and guilt grow more intense among gamblers, they begin using avoidant mechanisms, rather than admitting to themselves that there may be a problem. One example of this is claiming to have broken even, even they have actually experienced a loss. 


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