ERIC Number: ED285654
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Individual Differences among Depressed Mothers and Their Infants during Face-to-Face Interactions.
Cohn, Jeffrey F.
This study was designed to investigate whether depressed mothers would show a predominantly negative affect or fail to provide a positive frame of experience for their babies. Two field studies of depressed mothers and their infants were conducted. A subgroup of 13 subjects and their babies from a larger project conducted in Cambridge (Massachusetts) were videotaped at home during structured and spontaneous face-to-face interactions with their 6- to 7-month-old infants. Depression was assessed by means of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression-Scale (CES-D) at the time of family intake, at 4 to 7 months, and again 9 to 18 months later. Behavior was described with behavioral descriptors on a 1-s time scale and with rating scales. Findings indicated that the depressed mothers differed markedly. Only 2 of 13 mothers showed extreme disengagement. Half showed high proportions of intrusive and, at times, angry behavior. Maternal behavior was generally consistent between structured and spontaneous interactions. For the infants, behavior was primarily withdrawn; protest corresponded to maternal disengagement; and looking away corresponded to maternal intrusiveness. Generally, infants were distressed and either sought engagement without success or avoided contact. Both preliminary and follow-up investigations are reported. It is concluded that further research is needed to address questions raised by the findings and to explore the predictive relation between individual differences in the behavior of depressed mothers and the quality of infants' attachment. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Mental Health (DHHS), Rockville, MD.; National Inst. of Health (DHHS), Bethesda, MD. Biomedical Research Support Grant Program.
Authoring Institution: Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA. Medical School.; Pittsburgh Univ., PA.
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (Baltimore, MD, April 23-26, 1987).