Trait vulnerability and coping strategies in the transition to motherhood

Avi Besser, Beatriz Priel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Using a prospective design, we explored the role of approach and emotional/avoidance-coping strategies in the relations between dependent and self-critical trait vulnerabilities and postpartum depressive symptoms among first-time mothers. It was assumed that dependency and self-criticism associate with approach and emotional/avoidance strategies respectively, and that approach-coping strategies moderate trait vulnerabilities to depressive symptoms after childbirth. One hundred forty-six first pregnancy participants were assessed during the third trimester of pregnancy and eight weeks postpartum. Dependency was found to associate positively with high approach and low emotional/avoidance-coping strategies, while self-criticism was found to correlate positively with high emotional/avoidance and low approach-coping strategies. In addition, approach-coping scores were found to moderate self-critical trait vulnerability, reducing self-critical participants' depressive symptoms, thus confirming the coping effectiveness hypothesis. Results suggest that personality dispositions may affect the selection of coping processes, but that specific coping strategies are effective beyond personality characteristics, moderating the association between trait vulnerabilities and depressive symptoms. We propose a model in which self-criticism functions as vulnerability to depressive symptoms in the child-bearing period. Our results illustrate the need to distinguish dependent and self-critical personality traits, and point to the need to integrate personality and contextual factors in the study of childbirth depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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