Family structure and depression in female college students: Effects of parental conflict, decision-making power, and inconsistency of love

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Abstract

Based on earlier findings that maladjusted Ss come from families with high interparental conflict and dominance by the parent opposite in sex to the S's, a model was developed that predicted depression in female college students. Depression was predicted to depend on parental conflict, inconsistent love from the father, and the Conflict × Dominance × Father's Inconsistency interaction. Questionnaire measures of father's and mother's inconsistency, parental conflict, and relative decision-making power (dominance) were completed by 98 college women. Averages of scores on the Beck Depression Inventory and a reworded form measuring worst past depression were entered into a hierarchical multiple regression analysis. Significant relations were found between average depression and (a) parental conflict, (b) father's inconsistency, and (c) mother's inconsistency. Father's inconsistency accounted for twice as much independent variance as mother's inconsistency. The predicted triple interaction approached significance (p = 0.06), with inconsistent love from the father in high-conflict, paternally dominated families associated with the greatest vulnerability to depression. Consistent paternal love, low conflict, and paternal dominance were associated with the least vulnerability to depression. (10 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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