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Shame and guilt:Implications for the regulation of alcohol use

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Treeby, MS (2011) Shame and guilt:Implications for the regulation of alcohol use. PhD thesis, University of tasmania.

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Abstract

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 shamealcohol
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 guiltproneness
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.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
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Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2011 04:08
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
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