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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ego identity status as a developmental predictor of postpartum depression
by Giuliani, Karen Kelly, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2009, 160; 3369201
Abstract (Summary)

Ego identity formation, as proposed by Erikson (1959), is the major psychosocial task of adolescence and young adulthood. Though past research on ego identity has focused on adolescent changes, recently a new question has emerged: Does the initial ego identity formed in adolescence undergo developmental changes or reformulations during adulthood? (Berzonsky & Adams, 1999; Kroger, 1995; Marcia, 2002). This study examined changes in ego identity status (Marcia, 1966) during the transition to motherhood and its relation to the development of postpartum depressive symptoms using a two-wave longitudinal design. The dissertation also examined three potential mediators of this relationship: prenatal commitment to the pregnancy; postpartum commitment to the infant; and parenting self-efficacy.

The sample consisted of 78 pregnant women between the ages of 18 to 47. Data were collected through mailed self-report questionnaires during prenatal weeks 20 to 40 (Time 1) and again during postpartum weeks 5 to 22 (Time 2). Measures included the Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status-2 (EOMEIS-2; Adams, 1998) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977) at both time points; the Commitment to the Pregnancy scale (Lydon, Dunkel-Schetter & Cohan, 1996) at Time 1 and the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS; Beck & Gable, 2002), the Parenting Sense of Competence scale (PSOC; Gibaud-Wallston & Wandersman, 1978) and the Commitment to the Infant scale (developed by the author) at Time 2. Based on their EOMEIS-2 scores, participants were classified in one of four identity statuses: diffusion, foreclosure, moratorium or achievement during both the late pregnancy and early postpartum periods.

There was some evidence of change in ego identity status from the pre-to post-partum period with more women changing to a less rather than a more differentiated ego identity status postpartum. Change in ego identity status was not related to postpartum depressive symptoms. In cross-sectional analyses, postpartum ego identity status was related to depressive symptoms when depressive symptoms were measured by the PDSS. However only one mediational process was identified: commitment to the pregnancy mediated the relationship between prenatal ego identity status and prenatal depressive symptoms.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Revenson, Tracey A.
Commitee: Ruck, Martin, Winkel, Gary
School: City University of New York
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Nursing, Developmental psychology
Keywords: Depression, Ego identity, Postpartum depression, Women's development
Publication Number: 3369201
ISBN: 978-1-109-31044-3
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