Behavioral Competence among Mothers of Infants in the First Year: The Mediational Role of Maternal Self‐Efficacy

Douglas M. Teti, Donna M. Gelfand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

727 Scopus citations


This study tests the idea that mothers' self‐efficacy beliefs mediate the effects on parenting behavior of variables such as depression, perceptions of infant temperamental difficulty, and social‐marital supports. Subjects were 48 clinically depressed and 38 nondepressed mothers observed in interaction with their 3–13‐month‐old infants (M= 7.35 months). As predicted, maternal self‐efficacy beliefs related significantly to maternal behavioral competence independent of the effects of other variables. When the effects of self‐efficacy were controlled, parenting competence no longer related significantly to social‐marital supports or maternal depression. In addition, maternal self‐efficacy correlated signficantly with perceptions of infant difficulty after controlling for family demographic variables. These results suggest that maternal self‐efficacy mediates relations between maternal competence and other psychosocial variables and may play a crucial role in determining parenting behavior and infant psychosocial risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)918-929
Number of pages12
JournalChild development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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