Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 229–250 | Cite as

Ups and Downs in the Joy of Motherhood: Maternal Well-Being as a Function of Psychological Needs, Personality, and Infant Temperament

  • Katrijn BrenningEmail author
  • Bart Soenens
  • Elien Mabbe
  • Maarten Vansteenkiste
Research Paper


The present study aims to investigate several relevant psychological factors, including both mother characteristics (i.e., basic psychological need satisfaction and frustration, depressogenic personality) and child characteristics (i.e., infant temperament) in relation to daily variation in maternal well-being. Mothers (N = 126) participated in a five-day diary study shortly after child-birth, when the child went to day-care for the first time. The latter specific episode was chosen as this period is potentially stressful (due to parent–child separation and challenges in work–family life balance) and within-person variation is expected to be high in such episodes. At the within-person level, day-to-day variation in psychological need satisfaction and frustration related to day-to-day variability in maternal well-being. At the between-person level, maternal self-criticism related negatively to well-being, while perceived infant temperament yielded few direct associations. Instead, the child’s temperament played a moderating role in the association between basic psychological needs and maternal well-being. The findings of this study underscore the importance of a dynamic view on maternal well-being, with basic psychological needs, maternal personality and infant temperament contributing to well-being in a complex fashion.


Diary study Maternal well-being Basic psychological needs Depressogenic personality Infant temperament 



This study was funded by Research Foundation Flanders (FWO.3EO.2015.0012.01).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed involving human participants in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Ghent University Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consents were obtained from all participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental, Personality and Social PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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