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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|Advisor:||Revenson, Tracey A.|
|Commitee:||Ruck, Martin, Winkel, Gary|
|School:||City University of New York|
|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|
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