Social support, infant temperament, and parenting self-efficacy: a mediational model of postpartum depression

Child Dev. 1986 Dec;57(6):1507-18.


A model of maternal postpartum depression was tested in which difficult infant temperament was construed as a stressor and supportive interpersonal relationships were construed as a protective resource. It was hypothesized that both infant temperamental difficulty and level of social support would affect maternal depression through the cognitive mediation of perceived self-efficacy in the parenting role. Participants were 55 married women who were assessed during pregnancy and again 3 months postpartum. Infant temperament was assessed through observation, maternal crying records, and the Revised Infant Temperament Questionnaire. Results of a path analysis indicated that infant temperamental difficulty was strongly related to the mothers' level of postpartum depression, both directly and through the mediation of parenting self-efficacy. Consistent with predictions, social support appeared to exert its protective function against depression primarily through the mediation of self-efficacy. Both practical implications for identifying women at risk for postpartum depression and theoretical implications for understanding the mechanisms through which stressful events and social support affect adjustment are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Personality*
  • Pregnancy
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk
  • Self Concept
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Support*
  • Temperament*