The role of loneliness, negative affectivity, mentalization, and alcohol use in adolescent gambling

Marina Cosenza, Maria Ciccarelli, Barbara Pizzini, Mark David Griffiths, Mariagiulia Sacco, Giovanna Nigro


Background: The causes and consequences of youth problem gambling have become an area of increasing research interest. The present study investigated the role of loneliness, negative affective states, mentalization, and alcohol use among adolescent gamblers, exploring the relationships between the study variables utilizing path analysis.

Methods: A sample of 352 adolescents aged between 16-19 years were administered the (i) South Oaks Gambling Screen Revised for Adolescents, (ii) Loneliness and Aloneness Scale for Children and Adolescents, (iii) Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, (iv) Reflective Functioning Questionnaire, and (v) Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test to assess gambling severity, loneliness, negative affectivity, mentalization, and alcohol consumption.

Results: The regression analysis indicated that male gender, affinity for loneliness, hypomentalizing, and alcohol use significantly predicted adolescent gambling severity. Path analysis showed that stress contributed to gambling severity directly as well as indirectly (via hypomentalizing). Analysis of direct and indirect effects showed that unbalanced mentalizing strengthened the effect of stress on gambling severity.

Conclusions: Given that adolescent problematic gambling is associated with high levels of stress and inability to reflect on the self, clinical interventions should enhance adolescent gamblers’ ability to process mental states content and to reduce emotional distress associated with gambling involvement.


Gambling; Adolescent gambling; Loneliness; Emotional distress; Mentalization.

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