Infants of depressed mothers show less “depressed” behavior with their nursery teachers

Martha Pelaez‐Nogueras, Tiffany M Field, Maricel Cigales, Angela Gonzalez, Sara Clasky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This study investigated whether infants' “depressed” behavior (i.e., less positive affect and lower activity levels) noted during their interactions with their depressed mothers generalized to their interactions with their nondepressed nursery teachers. Field et al. (1988) reported that infants of depressed mothers also show “depressed behavior” when interacting with nondepressed female adults, suggesting that the infants develop a generalized “depressed mood style” of interaction. However, in that study the adults were also strangers to the infants, confounding the results. in the present study, eighteen 3‐month‐old infants interacted with their depressed mothers and also with their nondepressed familiar teachers in 3‐minute episodes. The infants' behavior ratings improved when they interacted with their familiar teachers compared to their interactions with their mothers. The infants' low activity levels and negative affect were specific to their interactions with their depressed mothers. Thus, the data suggest that the infants respond differentially to depressed and nondepressed adults who are familiar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-367
Number of pages10
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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