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The relation between gender -stereotyped behavior and adolescent depression: A sequential analysis of adolescent -mother interactions

Cynthia L Battle, University of Massachusetts Amherst


One of the most commonly reported findings in the epidemiology of psychological disorders is the 2:1 ratio of women to men who suffer from depression, a difference in prevalence rates that first emerges during the adolescent years. Although aspects of the feminine gender role have been identified as risk factors for depressive symptoms, the analysis of interpersonal interaction is rarely used to assess how these constructs may be behaviorally enacted. In this dissertation, interactions between mothers and adolescents were analyzed to identify specific sequences of behavior associated with adolescents' depressive symptoms, with the aim of clarifying reasons for the dramatic increase in depression among adolescent girls. A community sample of 79 adolescents & their families participated over a 3-year period. Thirty-two consecutive segments of a videotaped problem-solving interaction task were viewed by participants and coded on the dimensions of support, conflict, giving-in, humor, misunderstanding , and sarcasm. Using sequential analyses and multiple linear regression, I assessed the extent to which sequences consistent with the feminine gender role (conflict paired with giving-in ) predicted concurrent and future depressive symptoms. Additional exploratory analyses examined maternal reactions to adolescent conflict. Results indicate that the pairing of conflict with giving-in during problem-solving interactions is predictive of future depressive symptoms, and that adolescent sex and history of depressive symptoms moderate this relation. As expected, the behavioral combination of conflict with giving-in was a riskier one for girls and for adolescents with a history of depressive symptoms. Maternal responses to adolescent conflict did not differ when mother-son dyads were compared to mother-daughter dyads. ^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Battle, Cynthia L, "The relation between gender -stereotyped behavior and adolescent depression: A sequential analysis of adolescent -mother interactions" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9978471.