Gambling disorder (GD) is a mental disorder with a relatively higher prevalence in university students compared to adolescents and adults. Its reciprocity with mental being indicators, such as psychological flourishing, would be expected, but prior to this study had not yet been empirically examined. In addition, the predictive value of purpose in life (PIL) on university students' GD and psychological flourishing also remained unknown. This 1-year longitudinal study was the first to test the potential bidirectional relationships among PIL, self-reported GD symptoms, and psychological flourishing.
In this study, a total of 283 university students (39.6% females; age = 18–27 years, M = 20.47, SD = 1.15) completed an anonymous questionnaire at both baseline and a year later in a follow-up study.
The results of our cross-lagged analysis did not show the hypothesized reciprocity between GD symptoms and psychological flourishing ( P > 0.05). However, PIL significantly predicted fewer GD symptoms ( β = −0.23, P < 0.001) and higher levels of psychological flourishing ( β = 0.30, P < 0.001) in the follow-up study. Moreover, psychological flourishing predicted PIL a year later.