Perceived behavior and attributions in the relationships of women with mood disorders

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Patricia A. Clunn - Committee Chair


This exploratory study investigated the interpersonal relationships of women with mood disorders within the theoretical frameworks of Johnson's behavioral system and attribution theory. The purpose was to gain a more comprehensive understanding from the respondents' perception of their behavior in their relationships and the attributions that were made for any disruption in them. In-depth interviewing was conducted on an accidental sample of 34 women who were receiving medical treatment for a mood disorder. Twenty-seven of the women were diagnosed with bipolar disorder and 7 were diagnosed with major depression. The questionnaire used for data collection consisted of nine sections. It was interviewed for content validity and tested for reliability.Statistical analyses included one-way analyses of variance, two by two analyses of variance, and thematic analyses of a qualitative nature.Major findings from this study were: (a) The women with major depression whose most close person was their spouse had lower levels of intimacy than those women with major depression whose most close person was not a spouse, and lower levels than the bipolar women; (b) Descriptions by the women with mood disorders of their past relationships indicated a fertile ground for later attachment difficulties; (c) Perceived behavior in relationships yielded a personality profile of women who perceived weakness to be a problem area in their relationships with others and yet were engaged in control issues with those people who had the most effect on their lives; (d) The majority of the women perceived areas of disruption in their relationships, believing that there was disruption in both their affiliative and sexual relationships, and (e) Attributions made regarding affiliative disruption were primarily internal, unstable, and global, and attributions made for sexual disruption were primarily internal, unstable, and global.Despite the obstacles they are facing, these women with mood disorders were involved in meaningful relationships and were able to identify their perceptions of interpersonal problem areas. Recommendations are for further identification of the patterns of needs relevant to nursing intervention that these women may be experiencing.


Health Sciences, Mental Health

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