Depressed mothers' and their infants' interactions with nondepressed partners

Alex Martinez, Julie Malphurs, Tiffany Field, Jeffrey Pickens, Debra Bendell, Regina Yando, Claudia Valle, Daniel Messinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Twenty depressed adolescent mothers were videotaped interacting with their own infant and with the infant of a nondepressed mother. In addition, nondepressed mothers were videotaped with their own infant as well as with the infant of a depressed mother. Depressed mothers showed less facial expressivity than nondepressed mothers and received less optimal interaction rating scale scores (a summary score for state, physical activity, head orientation, gaze, silence during gaze aversion, facial expressions, vocalizations, infantized behavior, contingent responsivity, and gameplaying). This occurred independent of whether they were interacting with their own infant versus an infant of a nondepressed mother, suggesting that depressed mothers display less optimal behaviors to infants in general. The infants of both depressed and nondepressed mothers received better head orientation and summary ratings when they were interacting with another mother, perhaps because the other mother was more novel. Infants of nondepressed mothers, in particular, had better summary ratings (state, physical activity, head orientation, gaze, facial expressions, fussiness, and vocalizations) than the infants of depressed mothers when interacting with depressed mothers. Thus, it may be that infants of nondepressed mothers are generally better interaction partners than infants of depressed mothers. Another related possibility is that they persist longer in trying to elicit a response from mothers less responsive than their own, given that they have learned to expect a response to their behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-80
Number of pages7
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Depressed mothers' and their infants' interactions with nondepressed partners'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this