Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Albert Farrell


Research on family influences on adolescents’ aggression has revealed a relation between maternal depressive symptoms and adolescents’ frequency of aggression. A recent cross-sectional study of these relations (Pugh & Farrell, 2011) indicated that maternal depressive symptoms had a significant relation with teachers,’ students,’ and mothers’ reports of adolescents’ aggression. This effect was mediated by parenting practices and family functioning. The cross-sectional designs used in previous studies examining relations between maternal depressive symptoms and adolescents’ aggression make it difficult to draw clear inferences regarding the causal nature of this association. The present study used longitudinal data across five waves of data from a large multi-site study to explore reciprocal relations between maternal depressive symptoms and adolescents’ aggression and the role of parenting practices and family functioning as a mediator of this relation. Participants were 521 mother-adolescent dyads (64% Male; 69% African American) from 18 schools from four different sites throughout the United States representing a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. About 40% of the mothers met criteria for clinically elevated depressive symptoms. Data were collected across five waves from fall of the sixth grade to spring of the eighth grade. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale and adolescents’ aggression was assessed using adolescents’ reports on the Problem Behavior Frequency Scales and mothers’ and teachers’ ratings on the Behavior Assessment System for Children. Analyses revealed positive correlations between maternal depressive symptoms and adolescents’ aggression within each time point (p < .01). Autoregressive path models revealed the reciprocal nature of maternal depressive symptoms and mothers’ report of aggression among female adolescents (significant paths at the majority of time points, p < .05), but not among male adolescents. Hence, findings provide support for the reciprocal relation between maternal depressive symptoms and female adolescents’ aggression. With few exceptions, support was not found for parenting and family variables mediating this relation.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012

Included in

Psychology Commons