Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 18, 2001

Prof Wins Grant to Study Link Between Strict Parenting, Gambling

Is there a link between authoritarian parenting and risk-taking
behaviours such as gambling? University of Guelph professor Gerald
Adams is about to find out the answer.

Adams, a faculty member in the Department of Family Relations and
Applied Nutrition, has received a $168,000 grant from the Ontario
Problem Gambling Research Centre to study whether certain parenting
styles – especially strict, authoritarian parenting -- could be
encouraging children to seek risk-taking activities. “If we can find
a relationship between such factors, then we can predict such
problematic behaviours and find ways to prevent them,” said Adams,
who is renowned for his work on adolescent identity development and
wrote a series of books on the effect parenting styles have on
childhood and adolescent behaviour.

Adams and graduate student Anne-Marie Cantwell, who is specializing
in addictive behaviours, will study the gambling habits of students
attending the universities of Guelph, Windsor, Brock and Wilfrid
Laurier. “We will cover the spectrum, examining a broad range of
gambling, from betting to casinos, to game wagers and poker,” Adams
said. University students are ideal research candidates because many
of them are living away from home for the first time, yet remain
strongly connected to their families, he said. It’s also a crucial
time for self-development and self-identification, and the influence
of parenting styles is still strong.

Brock University and the University of Windsor were selected for
their close proximity to gaming venues. “We chose Guelph and Laurier
for the opposite reason — they are more buffered from serious
gambling venues,” Adams said.

He added that he was prompted to explore the possible connection
between gambling and parenting styles after conducting a study with
the University of Alberta on the relationship between self-identity
formation and mental health. During this study, Adams realized that
identity development is influenced by a number of factors and can
lead to certain types of human behaviours, like a tendency to gamble.

Adams’s study was one of 11 funded by the Ontario Problem Gambling
Research Centre, which opened in Guelph’s Research Park last year.
The provincial agency is funded by two per cent of the revenues from
slot machines at charity casinos and racetracks. “We had $4 million
to work with last year, which makes us the largest problem gambling
program in North America,” said centre director Rob Simpson, who is
the past director of the Homewood Behaviour Health Corporation and
was once executive director of the Wellington-Dufferin District
Health Council.

Simpson said the research centre’s mandate is to invest in studies
that will lead to improved understanding of problem gambling. “When
the government decided to expand gambling in the province, it was
aware that one of the unintentional problems would be an increase in
problem gambling,” he said. “The research we are funding explores
how problem gambling develops, how to prevent it and how to treat it

Simpson said Adams’s project will aid in those efforts by looking at
the relationship between adolescents and problem behaviours,
including gambling. “It is an interesting project because it
utilizes his existing research base outside of problem gambling and
marries it to this field, looking at how it relates to a person’s
tendency to gamble.”

Prof. Gerald Adams
Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 3967 or

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