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Guilt-proneness is associated with the use of protective behavioral strategies during episodes of alcohol use
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 titleAddictive Behaviors
Department/SchoolSchool of Psychological Sciences
PublisherPergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd
Place of publicationThe Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Ox5 1Gb
Rights statementCopyright 2017 Elsevier Ltd.