University Of Tasmania

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Guilt-proneness is associated with the use of protective behavioral strategies during episodes of alcohol use

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 20:25 authored by Treeby, MS, Rice, SM, Fiona CockerFiona Cocker, Amy PeacockAmy Peacock, Raimondo BrunoRaimondo Bruno

Introduction: Shame and guilt are closely related emotions with diverging implications for the development, and potential treatment, of substance use disorders. Accumulating research indicates that a guilt-prone affect style buffers individuals against the development of problematic alcohol use, while shame-proneness appears to offer no protective function. However, little is known about the manner in which guilt-prone individuals avoid the experience of alcohol use-related harms. The present study aimed to extend the shame, guilt, and substance use literature by examining whether these two self-conscious affect styles are differentially related to the use of protective behavioral strategies which reduce the risk of harms during drinking episodes.

Methods: Participants (N = 281; female n = 207) completed pen-and-paper measures of shame and guilt-proneness, level of alcohol use, and the habitual use of protective behavioral strategies during drinking episodes. Part-correlation analysis isolated shame-free guilt and guilt-free shame residuals in exploring relationships between self-conscious affect style and the use of protective behavioral strategies during drinking episodes.

Results: Guilt-proneness was consistently associated with the routine use of protective behavioral strategies during episodes of alcohol intake. In contrast, shame-proneness was unrelated to the use of such protective and harm avoidance strategies when drinking.

Conclusion: Findings provide additional support for the argument that guilt and shame need to be considered separately in both research and substance use treatment settings.


Publication title

Addictive Behaviors








School of Psychological Sciences


Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Ox5 1Gb

Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Elsevier Ltd.

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified