Emotional Availability


Scientific Validation (Research)

Attachment theory began in the 1950s with the work of John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, who observed young children’s reactions to separation from their parents and their reactions to loss. He also studied children in unusual circumstances, such as those raised in institutions. On the basis of his observations of infants and young children as well as his extensive knowledge of the field of ethology, he concluded that the young of all species come into this world biologically prepared to love and to attach to a loving caregiver. He believed, and it has been documented, that all children are attached to the individuals who take care of them. So unless a child is raised in an institution or there are many changes in the caregiving environment (such as foster care), children attach and love their parents. It is a biological imperative because it guarantees the survival of a species. All children are better off being connected with a wiser adult than they are taking care of themselves.

Dr. Biringen’s first book, Raising a Secure Child: Creating an Emotional Connection Between You and Your Child, (published in 2004 by Penguin), distilled over 40 years of research on attachment and two decades of research on emotional availability into a single volume. It was the first book that described this scientifically validated work for parents and other caregivers, and allowed parents not only a clear and measurable way to understand if a child is emotionally secure and his/her emotional needs are being met, but also a way to assess themselves “on the job.” Her second book is The Universal Language of Love: Assessing Relationships Through the Science of Emotional Availability, which describes how the Emotional Availability (EA) Scales might be used in personal relationships that involve parents and children, equal partner relationships, and leader-constituent relationships. The first book is available on amazon.com and the second book will be available on amazon.com in about 2 months (available NOW through this website and direct mailing to you). Both are general- audience books. She will soon be publishing a scholarly book on emotional availability. For your own research and/or other professional purposes, please see the list below for all extant publications using this system. Note that where the researcher has used the term “emotional availability” but not the EA Scales, we have not included that article in this list. Usage of the terms “emotional availability” “EA” or emotional availability (EA) refer now to linkage with a specific assessment system, rather than a general term. These terms have been registered as trademarks and should no longer be used except when utilizing the system, theory, and research tradition based on this work. Through this effort and authorized training, the EA field will remain cohesive and the system utilized with fidelity and excellence. If you have publication(s), books, master’s theses, and/or dissertatons that are not shown here, please let us know as soon as possible. This section is going to be continually updated so that those doing literature searches can easily and expeditiously find EA-related bibliography.

Publications using the Emotional Availability (EA) Scales

Conducted in different countries by leading US and international scholars
Albus, K. E. & Dozier, M. (April, 1998). Infant-caregiver interactions in developing attachment relationships: Emotional availability in foster care dyads. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development.

Aviezer, O. (2008). Emotional availability and the complexity of child care: A commentary, Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 4, 75-81.

Aviezer, O., Sagi, A., Joels, T., & Ziv, Y. (1999). Emotional availability and attachment representations in Kibbutz infants and their mothers. Development Psychology, 35, 811-821.

Aviezer, O., Sagi-Schwartz, A., & Koren-Karie, N. (2003). Ecological constraints on the formation of infant-mother attachment relations: When maternal sensitivity becomes ineffective. Infant Behavior & Development, 26, 285-299.

Barone, L. & Biringen, Z. (2007). Le scale per la valutazione della disponibilità emozionale (Emotional Availability Scales-EAS). In L. Barone, Emozioni e sviluppo. Percorsi tipici e atipici. Rome: Carocci.

Biringen, Z. C. (1987). Direct observation of mother-infant interaction in the home: Maternal sensitivity, perceptions of and interactions with child as a function of mother?s recalled parental acceptance. (Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1987). Dissertation Abstracts International, 48(12), 3701B.

Biringen, Z. (2000). Emotional availability: Conceptualisation and research findings. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70, 104-114.

Biringen, Z. (2004). Raising a secure child: Creating emotional availability between you and your child. New York: Perigee/Penguin Group.

Biringen, Z. Brown, D., Donaldson, L., Green, S., Krcmarik, S., & Lovas, G. (2000). Adult attachment interview: linkages with dimensions of emotional availability for mothers and their pre-kindergarteners. Attachment and Human Development, 2, 188-202.

Biringen, Z., Damon, J., Grigg, W., Mone, J., Pipp-Siegel, S., Skillern, S., Stratton, J. (2005). Emotional Availability: Differential predictions to infant attachment and kindergarten adjustment based on observation time and context. Infant Mental health Journal, 26, 295-308.

Biringen, Z. & Easterbrooks, A.E. (2008). Understanding relationships and relationship interventions, Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 4, 1-3.

Biringen, Z. Emde, R., Brown, D., Lowe, L., Myers, S., Nelson, D. (1999). Emotional availability and emotion communication in naturalistic mother-infant interactions: Evidence for gender relations. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 14, 463-478.

Biringen, Emde, Campos, Appelbaum (1995). Affective reorganization in the infant, the mother, and the dyad: The role of upright locomotion and its timing. Child Development, 66, 499-514.

Biringen, Z., Fidler, D. Barrett, K. & Kubicek, L. (2005). Applying the Emotional Availability Scales to children with disabilities. Infant Mental Health Journal, 26, 369-391.

Biringen, Z., Matheny, A., Bretherton, I., Renouf, A., & Sherman, M. (2000). Maternal representation of the self as parent: Connections with maternal sensitivity and maternal structuring. Attachment and Human Development, 2, 218-232.

Biringen, Z., Moorlag, A., Meyer, B., Wood, J., Aberle, J., Altenhofen, S., & Bennett, S. (2008). The Emotional Availability (EA) Intervention with Child Care Professionals. In Biringen, Z. & Easterbrooks, A.N. et al. (Eds., invited special mini-series on child care, December 2007). Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 4, 39-52.

Biringen, Z., & Robinson, J. (1991). Emotional availability in mother-child interactions: A conceptualization for research. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 61, 258-271.

Biringen, Z., Robinson, J., & Emde, R. (1994). Maternal sensitivity in the second year: Gender-based relations in the dyadic balance of control. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 64, 78-90.

Biringen, Z., Robinson, J., & Emde, R. (1998). Emotional Availability (EA) Scales, 3rd Edition. Unpublished Manual. www.emotionalavailability.com

Biringen, Z., Skillern, S., Mone, J., & Pianta, R (2005). Emotional availability is predictive of the emotional aspects of childrens’ “school readiness”. Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 1, 81-97.

Bornstein, M, Gini, M., Putnick, D., Haynes, O.M., Painter, K., Suwalsky, J.T.D. (2006). Short-term reliability and continuity of emotional availability in mother-child dyads across contexts of observation. Infancy, 10, 1-16.

Bornstein,M., Gini, M., Suwalsky, J.T.D., Putnick, D., & Haynes, O.M. (2006). Emotional Availability in Mother-Child Ddyads: Short-term stability and continuity from variable-centered and person –centered perspectives. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 52, 547-571.

Bretherton, I., (2000). Emotional availability: an attachment perspsective. Attachment & Human Development, 2, 233-241.

Bretherton, I., Biringen, Z., Ridgeway, D., Maslin, C., & Sherman, M. (1989). Attachment: The parental perspective, Infant Mental Health Journal, 10, 203-221.

Campbell, J. (2007). Understanding the emotional needs of children who are blind. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 351-355.

Campbell, J. & Johnston, C. (in press). Challenges in interaction for parents whose children are blind, Parenting: Science & Practice.

Carter, A., Garrity-Rokous, E., Chazan-Cohen, R., Little, C., & Briggs-Gowan, M. (2001). Maternal depression and comorbidity: Predicting early parenting, attachment security, and toddler social-emotional problems and competencies. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 18-26.

Chaudhuri, J. & Easterbrooks, A.E. (in press). The relation between emotional availability and parenting style: Cultural and economic factors in a diverse sample of young mothers, Parenting: Science & Practice.

Costantini, A, Cassibba, R., & Coppola, G. (April, 2009). The effects of mother-child emotional availability on language development in preterm and full-term dyads. Poster presented at the Biennial Meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Denver, Colorado.

de Falco, S., Venuti, P., Esposito, G., & Bornstein, M. (in press). Mother-child and father-child emotional availability in families of children with Down Syndrome. Parenting: Science & Practice.

Din, L., Pillai Riddell, R., & Gordner, S. (2009). Maternal emotional availability and infant pain-related distress. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34, 722-726.

Dolev, S., Oppenheim, D., Koren-Karie, N, & Yirmiya, N. (in press). Emotional Availability in mother-child interaction: The case of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Parenting: Science & Practice.

Dozier, M., Stovall, K., Albus, K., Bates, B. (2001). Attachment for infants in foster care: The role of caregiver state of mind. Child Development, 72, 1467-1477.

Easterbrooks, M., Biesecker, G., & Lyons-Ruth, K. (2000). Infancy predictors of emotional availability in middle childhood: The roles of attachment security and maternal depressive symptomatology. Attachment and Human Development, 2, 170-187.

Easterbrooks, M. Chaudhuri, J., Gestsdottir, S. (2005). Patterns of emotional availability among young mothers and their infants: A dyadic, contextual analysis. Infant Mental Health Journal, 26, 309-326.

Easterbrooks, M.A. & Biringen, Z. (2005). The Emotional Availability Scales: Methodological refinements of the construct and clinical implications related to gender and at-risk interactions. Infant Mental Health Journal, 26, 291-294.

Easterbrooks, M.A., & Biringen, Z. (in press). Emotional availability across contexts, Parenting: Science & Practice.

Edelstein, R., Alexander, W., Shaver, P., Schaaf, J., Quas, J., Lovas, G., Goodman, G. (2004). Adult attachment style and parental responsiveness during a stressful event. Attachment & Human Development, 6, 31-52.

Egeland, B., & Farber, E. (1984). Infant-mother attachment: factors related to its development and change over time. Child Development, 55, 753-771.

Emde, R. (1980). Emotional availability: A reciprocal reward system for infants and parents with implications for prevention of psychosocial disorders. In P. M. Taylor (Ed.), Parent-infant relationships. (pp. 87-115). Orlando, FL: Grune & Stratton.

Emde, R. (1983). The prerepresentational self and its affective core. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 38, 165-192.

Emde, R. (2000). Next steps in emotional availability research. Attachment and Human Development, 2, 242-248.

Emde, R., & Easterbrooks, A. (1985). Assessing emotional availability in early development. In W. Frankenburg, R. Emde, & J. Sullivan (Eds.), Early identification of children at risk. An international perspective. (pp. 79-101). New York/ London: Plenum Press.

Gibson, F.L., Ungerer, J.A., McMahon, C.A., Leslie, G.I., Saunders, D.M. (2000). The mother-child relationship following in vitro fertilization (IVF): Infant attachment, responsivity and maternal sensitivity. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 41, 1015-23.

Gibson, F.L., Ungerer, J.A., Tennant, C.C., Saunders, D.M. (2000) Parental adjustment and attitudes to parenting in vitro fertilization. Fertility and Sterility, 73, 565-574.

Howes, C. & Hong, S.S. (2008). Early emotional availability: Predictive of pre-kindergarten relationships among Mexican heritage children? Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 4, 4-26.

Howes, C. & Obregon, N.B. (in press). Emotional availability in Mexican-heritage low-income mothers and children: Infancy through preschool, Parenting: Science & Practice.

Kaplan, L.A., Evans, L. & Monk, C. (2008). Effects of mothers’ prenatal psychiatric status and postnatal caregiving on infant biobehavioral regulation: Can prenatal programming be modified? Early Human Development, 84, 249-256.

Kang, M.J. (2005). Quality of mother-child interaction assessed by the Emotional Availability Scale: Associations with maternal psychological well-being, child behavior problems, and child cognitive functioning.Ph.D. dissertation, The Ohio State University.

Kertes, D.A. (2005). Parent emotional availability and child temperament predicto adrenocortical response to stress in young children. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota.

Kogan, N. & Carter, A., (1996). Mother-infant reengagement following the still-face: The role of maternal emotional availability in infant affect regulation. Infant Behavior and Development, 19, 359-370.

Lehman, E., Steier, A., Guidash, K., & Wanna, S. (2002). Predictors of compliance in toddlers: Child temperament, maternal personality and emotional availability. Early Child Development and Care, 172, 301-310.

Little, C. & Carter, A. (2005). Negative emotional reactivity and regulation in 12-month-olds following emotional challenge: Contributions of maternal-Infant emotional availability in a low-income sample. Infant Mental Health Journal, 26, 354-368.

Lok, S. & McMahon, C. (2006). Mothers’ thoughts about their children: Links between mind-mindedness and emotional availability. British Journal of Developmental Psycholgy, 24, 477-488.

Lovas, G. (2002). Early gender development in the context of parent/toddler interactions: Emotional availability and language development. Dissertation Abstracts International (63): 2622.

Lovas, G. (2005). Gender and patterns of emotional availability in mother-toddler and father-toddler dyads, Infant Mental Health Journal, 26, 327-353.

Maffini, C., Juricich, L. Timmer, S. (2009). Caregiver-child emotional availability and compliance in children with PTSD. Poster presentation at Society for Research in Child Development Conference.

Martins, E. C. (2007). Regulacao emocional diadica, tmperamento e nivel de desenvolvimento aos 10 meses como preditores da qualidade da vinculacao aos 12/16 meses (Dyadic emotion regulation, temperament and developmental level at 10 months as predictors of attachment quality at 12/16 months. ) Unpublished doctoral thesis. Instituto de Educacao e Psicologia, Universidade do Minho, Portugal.

McCarthy, P., Freudigman, K., Cicchetti, D., Mayes, L., Benitez, J.L., Salloum, S., Baron, M., Fink, H., Anderson, R., & Lacamera, R. (2000). Journal of Pediatrics. 136, 809-817.

McCarthy, P., Walls, T., Cicchetti, D., Mayes, L., Rizzo, J., Lopez-Benitez, J., Salloum, S., Baron, M., Fink, H., Anderson, R., Little, T., LaCamera, R., Freudigman, K. (2003). Prediction of resource use during acute pediatric illnesses. Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 157, 990-996.

Möhler, E.,Biringen, Z. & Poustka, L.(2007). Emotional availability in a sample of mothers with a history of abuse, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry: Interdisciplinary perspectives on mental health and social justice, 77, 624-628.

Moreno, A., Klute, M., & Robinson, J. (2008). Relational and individual resources as predictors of empathy in early childhood. Social Development, 17, 613-637.

Oyen, A. (1997). Maternal attachment and emotional availability in an at-risk sample. Dissertation Abstracts International, 57(7-B): 4720.

Oyen, A., Landy, S., & Hilburn-Cobb, C. (2000). Maternal attachment and sensitivity in an at-risk sample. Attachment and Human Development, 2, 203-217.

Pipp-Siegel, S. (1996). Emotional availability in mother/toddler dyads on different risk statuses. Infant Behavior and Development, 19, 195.

Pipp & Dean (1994, Oct). Evaluation results of the Community Infant Project. Presentation to the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group, Denver, CO.

Pipp-Siegel, S., Blair, N.L., Deas, A.M., Pressman, L., & Yoshinaga-Itano, C. (1998 ) Touch and emotional availability in hearing and deaf or hard of hearing toddlres and their hearing mothers. The Volta Review, 100, 279-298.

Pressman, L., Pipp-Siegel, S., Yoshinaga-Itano, C., & Deas, A.M. (1999). Maternal sensitivity predicts language gain in preschool children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 294-304.

Pressman, L., Pipp-Siegel, S., Yoshinaga-Itano, C., Kubicek, L., & Emde, R. (1998). A comparison of the link between emotional availability and language gain in young children with and without hearing loss. Volta Review, 100, 251-277.

Rethazi, M. (1999). Maternal working model of the child and emotional availability in an sample of aggressive preschoolers. Dissertation Abstracts International, 60(1-A), 0067.

Robinson, J. & Biringen, Z. (1995). Gender and Emerging Autonomy in Development. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 15, 60-74.

Robinson, J.L., Emde, R.N., & Korfmacher, J. (1997). Integrating an emotional regulation perspective in a program of prenatal and early childhood visitation. Journal of Community Psychology, 25, 59-75.

Robinson, J. & Little, C. (1994). Emotional availability in mother-twin dyads: Effects on the organization of relationships. Psychiatary, 57, 22-31.

Robinson, J., Little, C. & Biringen, Z. (1993). Emotional communication in mother-toddler relationships: Evidence for early gender differentiation. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 39, 496-517.

Sagi, A., Koren-Karie, N., Gini, M., Ziv, Y., & Joels, T. (2002). Shedding further light on the effects of various types and quality of early child care on infant-mother attachment relationships: The Haifa study of early child care. Child development, 73, 1166-1186.

Salo, S., Kivistö, K., Korja, R., Biringen, Z., Tupola, S.-M., & Kivitie-Kallio, S. (in press). Emotional availability, parental self-efficacy beliefs, and child development in caregiver-child relationships with buprenorphine-exposed 3-year-olds. Parenting: Science & Practice.

Scher, A. (2001). Mother-child interaction and sleep regulation in one-year-olds. Infant Mental Health Journal, 22, 515-528.

Shivers, E.M. (2008). Using the Emotional Availability Scales along the Child Care Continuum, Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 4, 27-38.

Steier, A., & Brauch-Lehman, E. (2000). Attachment to transitional objects: Role of maternal personality and mother-toddler interaction. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70, 340-350.

Swanson, K., Beckwith, L., Howard, J. (2000). Intrusive caregiving and quality of attachment in prenatally drug-exposed toddlers and their primary caregivers. Attachment & Human Development, 2, 130-148.

Teti, D.M., Countermine, M., Mayer, G., & Kim, B.K. (2009). Parenting practices and emotional availability at bedtime and infant sleep quality. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development, Denver, Colorado.

Trapolini, T., Ungerer, J., McMahon, C. (2008). Maternal depression: Relations with maternal caregiving representations and emotional availability during the preschool years. Attachment & Human Development, 10, 73-90.

Van Doesum, K., Hosman, M., Riksen-Walraven, J., Hoefnagels, C. (2007). Correlates of depressed mothers’ sensitivity toward their infants: The role of maternal, child, and contextual characteristics. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 46, 747-756.

Van Ijzendoorn, M., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., van Daalen, E., Dietz, C., Buitelaar, J.K., Swinkels, S.H.N., Naber, F.B., & van Engeland, H. (2007). Parental sensitivity and attachment in children with autism spectrum disorder: Comparison with children with mental retardation, with language delays, and with typical development. Child Development, 78, 597-608.

Vliegen, N., Bijttebier, P., Boulpaep, N., Luyten, P.M., Cluckers, G. & Biringen, Z. (2005). De EA-DSR Een zelfrapporteringsschaal voor het meten van emotionele beschikbaarheid bij ouders van jonge kinderen (0-1 jaar). [The EA-DSR, a parental self report scale measuring emotional availability in interaction with infants (0-1 year). Diagnostiekwijzer. [peer-reviewed Dutch journal], Jaargang, 8, 137-147. Dutch sample.

Vliegen, N., Luyten, P., & Biringen, Z. (in press). A multi-method perspective on emotional availability in the postpartum period, Parenting: Science & Practice.

Weifel, A., Wollenweber, S., Oepen, G., Lenz, K., Lehmkuhl, U., & Biringen, Z. (2005). Emotional availability in infant psychiatry, Infant Mental Health Journal, 26, 392-403.

Zimmerman, L & Fassler, I. (2003). The dynamics of emotional availability in childcare. Infants and Young Children 16, 258-269.

Zimmerman, L. & McDonald, L. (1995). Emotional availability in infants’ relationships with multiple caregivers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 65, 147-152.

Ziv, Y., Aviezer, O., Gini, M., Sagi, A., & Koren-Karie, N. (2000). Emotional availability in the mother-infant dyad as related to the quality of infant-mother attachment relationship. Attachment and Human Development, 2, 149-169.