What Your Personality Says About Your Gaming Behaviour

Can your personality predict your gaming behaviour? Well, a study recently published by Society for the Study of Addiction found a connection between problem gambling behaviour and personality traits. Essentially, individuals who demonstrate certain types of gaming behaviours and personality factors are at more risk of developing problems with gambling.

What Makes Someone At Risk?

In order to define the type of characteristics of a person that’s at risk of developing a problem with gambling, the five-factor model of personality (aka the Big 5) was used in conjunction with other measuring tools to perform this study. This model has the following personality traits:

  • – Neuroticism (emotional instability)
  • – Extroversion (sociability and assertiveness)
  • – Intellect (openness and imagination)
  • – Agreeableness (being warm, kind and trusting)
  • – Conscientiousness (being reliable and organized)


According to previous studies, individuals who have trouble coping with negative experiences and don’t know how to manage their emotions in a healthy way were more likely to score higher on neuroticism and score low on conscientiousness. Those individuals where described as pathological gamblers “severe problem gamblers who may need treatment for gambling disorder.”[1]

Other common characteristics but not always found with people who had more serious problems with gambling were:

  • – More often a male than female
  • – Live alone
  • – Low levels of education
  • – Unemployed
  • – On disability pension


This was considered important information discovered because it was believed that this data could assist in creating prevention strategies and awareness amongst certain demographics.

Sound familiar?

When it comes to addiction, many individuals who are in recovery will state that they weren’t addicted to drugs or alcohol, they were addicted to how it made them feel. Using helped them escape from reality and numb negative emotions. This sort of logic also describes the personality traits that people who often have problems with gambling. According to this research study, it’s also been proven that “Neuroticism may be linked to gambling problems in that individuals who frequently experience negative emotions gamble in order to alter their mood and to escape from negative emotions. Conscientiousness is assumed to be linked to gambling problems because individuals low in conscientiousness may have difficulties resisting urges, especially during positive or negative mood states.”[2]

Recovery from Problem Gambling

The act of gambling may not be a bad thing. Gambling outside of your means that leads to financial issues is a problem. Not being able to cut back successfully is a bigger problem. That’s why compulsive gambling is often treated the same way drug or alcohol addiction is treated at Bellwood Health Services.

What did this research study reveal? It proved that those that treat compulsive gambling need to look at emotions such as guilt, anger and shame to help an individual work through to identify what causes the person to feel that way, how can they learn positive ways to cope and successfully recover to get their life back on track.  It also told us that these individuals need to learn how to change so that they can live more meaningful and healthy lives.

At Bellwood, there are many life skills taught and motivational coaching strategies used by our counsellors to help clients recover holistically. Meaning, in any of our treatment programs offered through our network of treatment centres across Canada, we use a holistic approach that considers every part of the individual. In addition, each client carries out his or her own unique path towards recovery.

If you know someone who may have a gambling problem, please call us at 1-800-387-6198 or click here for more information about our intensive inpatient problem gambling treatment program.

[1] Geir Scott Brunborg, et al. Problem Gambling and the Five-Factor Model of Personality: A Large Population-Based Study. Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Norway. Society for the Study of Addiction. March 2016.

[2] Geir Scott Brunborg, et al. Problem Gambling and the Five-Factor Model of Personality: A Large Population-Based Study. Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Norway. Society for the Study of Addiction. March 2016.


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