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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Ann M. Stacks

Second Advisor

Marjorie Beeghly

Abstract

This study examined the stability of parental reflective functioning from the third trimester of pregnancy to seven months postpartum, as well as possible factors that impact stability. The current sample included a subsample of 47 mothers who participated in a larger study examining fetal brain connectivity and infant outcomes. Parental reflective functioning was assessed using the Pregnancy Interview-Revised (Slade, Grunebaum, Huganir, & Reeves, 1987; Slade, 2011) and the Parent Development Interview-Revised Short form (Slade et al., 2003). Additional measures assessed parity, adult romantic attachment, and demographic factors. Stability of reflective functioning was assessed in two ways, continuously and categorically. Findings indicate that indeed, reflective functioning remained stable in the current sample from pregnancy to postpartum. This finding was regardless of parity, romantic attachment avoidance or anxiety, or demographic risk. Significant differences in prenatal reflective functioning were found based on mothers’ education and marital status. There were also differences in the relationship between prenatal and postnatal reflective functioning scores for mothers who had varying levels of cumulative risk, and education. Findings from the current study support the need for more research to examine the stability and change of reflective functioning over time, as they have important implications for understanding intervention effects. Future research in this area can aid in establishing the degree of change in reflective functioning scores which results in a meaningful change in parenting behavior which positively impacts on infant behavior and development.

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