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Shame and guilt-proneness: Divergent implications for problematic alcohol use and drinking to cope with anxiety and depression symptomatology

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 12:37 authored by Treeby, M, Raimondo BrunoRaimondo Bruno
Shame and guilt are closely related emotions of negative affect that give rise to considerably divergent motivational and self-regulatory behaviors. While shame-proneness has demonstrated replicable relationships with increased alcohol use disorder symptomatology, guilt-proneness appears to protect an individual against development of problematic alcohol use. One prominent but untested hypothesis is that shame-prone individuals are motivated to consume alcohol in order to down-regulate experiences of negative affect. The present study aimed to test this hypothesis by exploring relationships between shame and guilt-proneness with motivations for consuming alcohol. University students (N = 281) completed measures of shame and guilt-proneness, measures of alcohol use disorder symptomatology, and a measure assessing five motivational domains for consuming alcohol. Shame-proneness was positively associated with problematic alcohol use and drinking as a means of coping with anxiety and depression- related symptomatology. In contrast, guilt-proneness was inversely related to alcohol problems and drinking to cope with depression. This study provides initial support for the hypothesis that shame-prone individuals are inclined to consume alcohol in order to cope with negative affect states. These findings may help explain the inverse relationship between guilt-proneness and alcohol problems and the apparent positive relationship between shame-proneness and problematic alcohol use.


Publication title

Personality and Individual Differences










School of Psychological Sciences



Place of publication

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

Rights statement

Copyright 2012 Crown Copyright

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

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

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