University Of Tasmania
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Shame and guilt : implications for the regulation of alcohol use

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posted on 2023-05-26, 06:03 authored by Treeby, MS
Shame and guilt are two closely related self-conscious emotions of negative affect that give rise to notably disparate motivational and self-regulatory behaviors. Preliminary research suggests that while the dispositional tendency to experience guilt (i.e., guilt-proneness) is inversely related to disordered alcohol use, dispositional shame-proneness appears to share a positive relationship with alcohol problems. However, no research has explored the reasons for which shame and guilt-prone individuals consume alcohol, including the notion that shame-prone individuals consume alcohol to cope with negative emotions. Moreover, no research has examined the unique correlates of shame and guilt experienced specifically in response to problematic alcohol use (i.e., alcohol userelated shame and guilt). The overarching aim of this thesis was to further clarify the roles of shame and guilt in the regulation of alcohol use in two non-clinical samples predominately comprising undergraduate students. Study 1 (Sample 1 N = 428, Sample 2 N = 281) sought to explore the respective relationships of dispositional shame and guilt-proneness with problematic alcohol use, impaired control over alcohol consumption, and the experience of negative alcohol-related consequences. Dispositional shameproneness was found to be positively associated with the experience of alcohol problems and the perceived loss of control over drinking. In contrast, a consistent pattern of results emerged indicating that dispositional guilt-proneness is associated with the adaptive regulation of alcohol use and the avoidance of alcohol-related harms. Study 2 (Sample 1 N = 429, Sample 2 N = 281) sought to examine the links between dispositional shame and guilt-proneness with individual differences in reasons for drinking, as well as the beliefs that shame and guilt-prone individuals hold with regards to the effects of alcohol. Consistent with the shame-alcohol use-shame hypothesis, dispositional shame-proneness was positively associated with drinking as a means of down-regulating negative emotions and the belief that alcohol use results in emotion deregulation and additional negative affect. In contrast, dispositional guilt-proneness was inversely related to drinking to cope with negative emotions. The aim of Study 3 was to develop and provide an initial psychometric validation of a new domain-specific measure of alcohol use-related shame and guilt, the Perceptions of Drinking Scale (PODS). The psychometric properties of the PODS were found to be excellent across two independent samples (Sample 1 N = 293, Sample 2 N = 429), with findings indicating that alcohol use-related shame and guilt can be reliably differentiated using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis procedures. Preliminary evidence of construct validity was also found for the alcohol use-related shame and guilt subscales of the PODS. Alcohol use-related shame was not clearly related to the taking of action to address problematic alcohol use, but was positively related with measures of negative affect and the tendency to use avoidance-based coping strategies. Conversely, alcohol use-related guilt was generally unrelated to measures of negative affect and was clearly associated with the taking of action to address problematic alcohol use. This dissertation found that both dispositional shame-proneness and experiences of alcohol use-related shame appear to play no or very minimal adaptive role in the regulation of alcohol use. In contrast, dispositional guilt-proneness and experiences of alcohol use-related guilt were consistently found to be associated with favourable alcohol use regulation outcomes. These findings further highlight the importance of differentiating between shame and guilt when considered in alcohol treatment and research contexts. Moreover, results indicate that the alcohol use-related shame and guilt constructs have particular relevance in the context of treating and conceptualizing the emotional sequelae a problematic alcohol use.


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Copyright Copyright 2011 the author

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