Pathological gambling and the five-factor model of personality

R. Michael Bagby, David D. Vachon, Eric L. Bulmash, Tony Toneatto, Lena C. Quilty, Paul T. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


The goal of this investigation was to examine the personality differences between non-treatment seeking pathological gamblers (PGs) and non-pathological gamblers (NPGs) using the domain and facet traits of the five-factor model of personality (FFM), as measured by the NEO PI-R. Compared to NPGs, PGs scored significantly higher on the neuroticism domain and significantly lower on the conscientiousness domain. Significant differences between PGs and NPGs also emerged for three of four FFM facet traits associated with impulsivity, with PGs scoring higher on impulsiveness and lower on self-discipline and deliberation facets. Both PGs and NPGs had equally high scores (relative to the norm) on excitement-seeking, the fourth facet associated with impulsivity, suggesting that excitement-seeking characterizes gambling behavior rather than pathological gambling. The present findings suggest that the overall personality profile of the PG is one that combines high impulsivity with emotional vulnerability. Importantly, the results also suggest that excitement-seeking, a personality construct akin to sensation-seeking, may not be a specific marker of PG but rather a characteristic common to all those who gamble.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-880
Number of pages8
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Five-factor model of personality
  • Impulsivity
  • Pathological gambling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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