Study on infants of depressed mothers
Infants as young as 3 months can tell when their mothers are sad, and they don’t like it at all.
Psychologists filmed 24 3-month-old infants and their mothers during three-minute intervals of normal interaction and three-minute intervals during which the mothers acted as though they were depressed. The mothers were asked to imagine how they felt on days when they were tired or down, not to look at their baby, speak in a monotone voice, keep their face expressionless and minimize contact with their babies.
One group of infants and mothers started with depressed interactions and then switched to normal interactions. The second group switched from normal to depressed interactions, and a third group interacted normally during both 3-minute intervals.
Results showed that when mothers were depressed, babies spent half their time protesting, with negative facial expressions, crying, fussing and arching their backs, eyebrows narrowed and looking toward their mothers. Even when the mothers began to behave normally, the babies’ negative attitudes persisted.
In contrast, babies whose mothers acted normally spent a large portion of the time at play with smiling faces. Only rarely did they protest or show signs of discontent.
The researchers believe that when a mother is genuinely depressed, an infant’s emotional and social development can be jeopardized.
Name and describe the experimental groups and control group:
Name the independent variable:
How is it operationalized or defined ( what behaviors did the researchers vary in the mothers) :
What were the infant behaviors that defined the dependent variable for the experimental groups:
and control group: