Comparison of emotion regulation deficits and impulsivity in pathological gamblers and compulsive buyers

A.D. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Pathological gambling (PG) and compulsive buying (CB) are two disorders characterized by poor impulse-control that share similar phenomenological features such as focused attention, monetary exchange, and gratification. Interestingly, it has been proposed that CB may actually be the female equivalent of PG, therefore other similarities in clinical presentation and associated features should be observed across the two disorders. Specifically, there may be similarities in propensity towards impulsive responding at both the emotional and behavioural level. Due to the high rates of Axis I comorbidity in both disorders, there may also be similarities in coping responses and means of regulating emotional distress. The goals of the present study were therefore to examine the similarities in emotion regulation difficulties, impulsivity, and mindful attention awareness among a sample of pathological gamblers (n = 23), compulsive buyers (n = 26), and healthy community controls (n = 24). Analysis of variance supported specific deficits of emotion regulation that may interact with the observed disposition in both populations to respond rashly in response to negative affective states and to be less mindfully aware. The results emphasize the potential need to address these vulnerabilities in the treatment of both disorders. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGambling Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • compulsive gambling
  • compulsive shopping
  • impulse control disorders
  • gamblers psychology


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