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Dev Psychol. 1999 Jan;35(1):232-45.

The emergence of gender difference in depressed mood during adolescence: the role of intensified gender socialization.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.


The prevalence of depressive mood was examined in a representative and nationwide sample of approximately 12,000 Norwegian adolescents. From the age of 14, girls scored 0.5 SD above boys in depressed mood, a difference that was stable throughout the adolescent period. At the age of 12, no gender difference was found. The gender difference was due to girls becoming more depressed from 13 to 14 years of age. An extended version of the gender intensification hypothesis (J. P. Hill & M. E. Lynch, 1983) was tested as an explanation for the gender difference in depressed mood. Structural equation modeling and regression analyses showed that the gender difference could be explained, in part, by increased developmental challenges for girls--pubertal development, dissatisfaction with weight and attainment of a mature female body, and increased importance of feminine sex role identification. Depressed mood was not associated with masculinity or school change, as had been predicted.

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