Kate B. Oddi

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bridgett, David J.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Psychology; Developmental psychology; Clinical psychology; Children of depressed persons--Research; Depression in women--Research; Depressed persons--Family relationships--Research; Mother and child--Mental health--Research


The present study examined the relationship between maternal depressive symptoms and infant positive emotionality (PE) in the first year postpartum. It was anticipated that a reciprocal relationship between the variables would be identified. One hundred thirty-five mothers and their infants (62 males, 73 females) were recruited to participate in a larger study examining the development of temperament and emotion regulation in the first three years of life. Mothers provided demographic information and participated in a structured clinical interview when their infants were four months old. When infants reached 6, 8, and 10 months of age, mothers completed questionnaires which assessed maternal depressive symptoms and infant PE. Infants participated in a structured game of Peek-a-Boo with their mothers during laboratory visits and these interactions were later coded for several indicators of infant PE. Trained research assistants also observed infants during laboratory visits and then rated their degree of happiness. Structural equation modeling was utilized to test the study's key hypothesis. Surprisingly, results did not support a reciprocal relationship between maternal depressive symptoms and infant PE in the first year of life. However, results did suggest that mothers who had experienced clinical levels of depression within their lifetime rated their eight-month-old infants as less positive on the Infant Behavior Questionnaire--Revised than other mothers. Mothers with a history of clinical depression also tended to have infants who displayed more positivity during the Peek-a-Boo game when they were 6 and 8 months old as compared to other infants. Examination of autoregressive effects indicated consistency with regard to the severity of maternal depressive symptoms between the time infants were 6 and 10 months old. The pattern of autoregressive effects for infant PE depended on the method used to assess the construct, but overall results suggest that infant PE develops considerably in the first 8 months of life. In addition to results concerning autoregressive and cross-lagged effects, analyses revealed important similarities and differences between methods of assessing maternal depression and infant positive emotionality in the first year of life. Implications of the present study's findings for future research and practice are discussed.


Advisors: David J. Bridgett.||Committee members: Christine K. Malecki; Janet Olson; Bradford H. Pillow; Laura D. Pittman; Karen J. White.


162 pages




Northern Illinois University

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