Maternal Emotion and Depressive Symptoms in Relation to Child Outcomes: A Person-Centered Approach
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Series/Report no.:2014 Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum. 28th
Mothers influence the manner in which children are socialized and learn to express and regulate their emotions (Eisenberg et al., 1998). Furthermore, certain maternal characteristics and behaviors influence this development in children, including mother’s emotion expression (Kochanska & Askan, 2004), emotionality (Eisenberg et al., 2000), depressive symptoms (Silk et al., 2006), and stress (Crnic et al., 2005); however, these characteristics are generally considered independently using variable-centered methods, and we do not have a clear understanding of their interconnectedness and co-occurrence. The current study utilizes a person-centered approach in order to investigate differing maternal profiles, defined by characteristics that have been shown to influence child emotional development, in relation to child emotion regulation and problem behaviors. Participants include 100 mothers with children (M = 3.19, SD = 0.18), recruited from the Columbus, OH area. When the child was three years old, mothers and children participated in a lab visit and mothers completed questionnaires. Mother and child observed emotion was assessed during two interaction play tasks, clean-up and Tickle-Me-Elmo, which were coded for second-by-second expressions of positive and negative affect. The mothers completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS-X; Watson, & Clark, 1994), assessing positive and negative emotionality; the Parenting Daily Hassle questionnaire (PDH; Crnic & Greenberg, 1990), which assessed the frequency and intensity of parenting stress; and the Beck Depression Inventory-2nd Edition (BDI-II; Becket al., 1996) for depressive symptoms. Mothers also completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001) for child internalizing and externalizing problems. A cluster analysis was conducted, classifying distinct maternal profiles defined by observed positive emotion expression and reported positive and negative emotionality, depressive symptoms, and parenting stress frequency and intensity. Four profiles were identified, labeled Happy (n = 32; high positive emotion/low negative emotion both observed and reported, low depressive symptoms and stress), Intense (n = 12; high observed positive emotion and reported negative emotionality, elevated depressive symptoms), Flat (n = 34; low observed positive emotion, average reported positive emotionality, low stress), and Distressed (n = 22; high negative emotionality, depressive symptoms, and stress, low observed positive emotion). A hierarchical regression analysis revealed that, the profiles were associated with child outcomes, including observed positive (F(6, 96) = 2.17, p = .05) and negative (χ2(6) = 14.83, = .02) emotion expression during the Elmo task, as well as internalizing (F(6, 93) = 3.60, p = .003) and externalizing (F(6, 93) = 7.56, p < .001) behaviors; however, only the Distressed profile was related to negative child outcomes. The results suggest that maternal characteristics interact and co-occur differently across individuals and children may only experience negative outcomes when maternal characteristics are consistently negative. This suggests that it may be possible for clinicians working with depressed mothers and their children to tailor interventions for any one of the identified maternal characteristics in order to alleviate child risk.
Education and Human Ecology: 1st Place (The Ohio State University Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum)