Infants of depressed mothers show "depressed" behavior even with nondepressed adults

Child Dev. 1988 Dec;59(6):1569-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1988.tb03684.x.


To determine whether the "depressed" behavior (e.g., less positive affect and lower activity level) of infants noted during interactions with their "depressed" mothers generalizes to their interactions with nondepressed adults, 74 3-6-month-old infants of "depressed" and nondepressed mothers were videotaped in face-to-face interactions with their mothers and with nondepressed female strangers. "Depressed" mothers and their infants received lower ratings on all behaviors than nondepressed mothers and infants. Although the infants of "depressed" versus nondepressed mothers also received lower ratings with the stranger adult, very few differences were noted between those infants' ratings when interacting with their mother versus the stranger, suggesting that their "depressed" style of interacting is not specific to their interactions with depressed mothers but generalizes to their interactions with nondepressed adults as early as 3 months of age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Child Development
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Middle Aged
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Social Environment*