Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Jeremy Pettit

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Daniel Bagner

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Andy Pham

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Chockalingam Viswesvaran

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


reward responsivity, maternal depression

Date of Defense



The purpose of the current dissertation was to develop a measure of mother’s reward responsivity in parenting. I proposed that deficits in reward responsivity may contribute to maladaptive parenting behaviors, especially among depressed mothers. Reward responsivity is conceptualized as an individual difference in reactivity to pleasurable stimuli and represents a key motivational component that could contribute to the frequency and quality of mothers’ interactions with their infants.

To empirically evaluate the link between mother reward responsivity, behaviors towards their infant, and infant behavior outcomes, a measure of reward responsivity in relation to parenting behavior was needed. The current dissertation addressed this need and developed a self-report measure of reward responsivity in parenting named the Mother Inventory of Reward Experience (MIRE).

The MIRE was evaluated in two studies: the first study was among 31 adolescent mothers (M = 16.97, SD = 1.22) and the second was among 200 adult mothers (M = 28.45, SD = 5.50). Following guidelines on scale development, the development of MIRE started with an initial item pool of 105 items that were examined for psychometric performance of item mean, item kurtosis and item-total correlations. Seventy-two items were deleted because the mean of the item was at the top or bottom of its range, the kurtosis was above or below the absolute value of three, or the item remainder coefficient was less than 0.3. The remaining 33 items displayed high internal consistency reliability and test re-test reliability over two weeks. Convergent validity was established via a statistically significant correlation with a self-report measure of general reward responsivity. Concurrent validity was established via statistically significant correlations with depressive symptoms, parenting stress, and child behavior. Incremental validity of the MIRE over measures of general reward responsivity was supported via significant predictions of parenting stress, infant positive affectivity, and infant regulatory capacity. These results support the reliability and initial validation of the MIRE. Future directions are presented with a focus on understanding the role of maternal reward responsivity, maternal depression, and parenting behaviors.





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