NORMATIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT DURING PREGNANCY

JEANNE CAROLAN DIETRICH, Fordham University

Abstract

Numerous theories describe how women might be expected to change psychologically during pregnancy. Most of the empirical literature on pregnancy is atheoretical in nature, and the findings regarding the nature of emotional changes during pregnancy are often inconsistent. The purpose of the present dissertation research is to provide a more direct empirical assessment of psychological development during pregnancy.^ The independent variables in the design were the stages of pregnancy. The dependent variables were select scales from two standardized personality instruments, the Personality Research Form (Jackson, 1974) and the Jackson Personality Inventory (Jackson, 1976). The scales were selected to parallel the psychological changes suggested by theory to occur during pregnancy. Nurturance, Succorance, Sentience, Harm Avoidance and Anxiety were predicted to increase across the trimesters of pregnancy. Affiliation was predicted to decrease across pregnancy. Although not stated as formal hypotheses, additional personality scales were administered that were predicted not to change. These scales were Breadth of Interest, Conformity and Order.^ The study was conducted with cross-sectional and longitudinal groups of pregnant women. Sixty women were tested three times during pregnancy and once during the post partum period. In order to control for possible testing effects, independent groups (N = 20 per group) were tested at each observation period in which the longitudinal group received a repeated testing (second trimester, third trimester and post partum period).^ All hypotheses were supported. All change was in the predicted direction. Nurturance, Succorance, Sentience, Harm Avoidance, and Anxiety increased across the trimesters of pregnancy. Affiliation scores decreased significantly. All probability levels were < .001. Significant differences were found between successive trimesters, and between the third trimester and the post partum period for all scales. Two of the scales predicted not to change across pregnancy decreased significantly. Breadth of Interest demonstrated a significant decrement between the first and third trimesters. Order demonstrated a significant decrement between the second trimester and post partum. Statistical analyses revealed little evidence of testing effects. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.) ^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

DIETRICH, JEANNE CAROLAN, "NORMATIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT DURING PREGNANCY" (1984). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8506323.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8506323

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