The purpose of this descriptive study was to assess maternal role perceptions and to determine if infant developmental tasks impact upon maternal perception. The researcher asked the following questions: Is maternal role perception more positive when the infant is 4 months of age than when the infant is 8 months of age? How does the infant's developmental task of the "social smile" at 4 m o n t h s affect maternal role perception? How does the infant's developmental tasks of "stranger reaction" and "separation anxiety" at 8 months affect maternal role perception? Barnard's Parent-Child Interaction Model (1979) and Mercer's (1985) evaluation of the process of maternal role attainment during the first year of motherhood provided the conceptual framework for this study. Maternal role perceptions were measured using two instruments, Gratification in the Maternal Role and Feelings About the Baby (Mercer, 1985) and awareness of developmental task was achieved through maternal repo r t . The sample consisted of 27 mothers who lived in rural Mississippi with infants who were either 4 or 8 months of age. Group 1, the longitudinal sample, consisted of mothers who completed the instruments when their infants were 4 and 8 months of age. Both Groups 2 and 3 were cross-sectional samples consisting of mothers who completed the instruments when their infants were either 4 or 8 months of age. The dependent student’s and chi-square statistics were used to analyze data. No values were found to be significant at the .05 level. The results of this study indicated that maternal role perceptions about self and infant for both the longitudinal and cross-sectional samples remained constant at 4 and 8 months postpartum. Furthermore, developmental tasks were not found to impact maternal role perceptions. Further research about maternal role perceptions was recommended.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Dr. Mary Patricia Curtis

Second Advisor

Dr. Virginia Cora

Third Advisor

Dr. Rayma Skinner

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons