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Laney Graduate School

Emory College

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Early Exposure to Maternal Depressive Symptoms and the Identification of Emotions in Facial Expressions by School-Aged Offspring


Ammirati, Rachel Jeanne (2008)
Master's Thesis (114 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Nowicki Jr., Stephen
Committee Members: Fivush, Robyn ; Goodman, Sherryl H
Research Fields: Psychology, Clinical
Keywords: maternal depression; emotion identification; emotion; offspring; depression; parental depression; facial expressions; school-aged
Program: Laney Graduate School, Psychology (Clinical Psychology)
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/16v5q

Abstract

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the potential association between early exposure to elevated maternal depressive symptoms and school-aged children's emotion identification skill for child facial expressions. Because school-aged children of depressed mothers have been found to exhibit poorer peer relationship functioning than children of nondepressed mothers (e.g., Goodman, Brogan, Lynch, & Fielding, 1993), it was predicted that more chronic early exposure to elevated maternal depressive symptoms would be associated with school-aged offspring exhibiting more specific or general deficits in emotion identification skill, and that these deficits would be associated with peer relationship difficulties. In addition, the potential impact of the specific timing of exposure to elevated maternal depressive symptoms within the first three years of life on school-aged children's emotion identification skill was also examined. Data on 2504 mother-child dyads from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC; Golding & the ALSPAC Study Team, 2004) were examined, and self-reports of maternal depressive symptoms were ascertained at 8 weeks, 8 months, 21 months, and 33 months post birth. Children's emotion identification skill and teacher-rated peer relationship functioning were measured when they were approximately eight years of age. Results suggested there was generally no support for a relationship between early exposure to elevated maternal depressive symptoms and school-aged children's emotion identification skill. Therefore, when considering exposure to maternal depression that occurred during the first few years of a child's life, impaired emotion identification skill may not help to explain why offspring exhibit peer relationship difficulties during middle childhood. Results are further discussed in terms of limitations of the present study and directions for future research are outlined.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction.........................................................................................1

II. Method.............................................................................................31

III. Results............................................................................................40

IV. Discussion........................................................................................51

V. References.........................................................................................62

VI. Figures and Tables.............................................................................83

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