of Child Study and
105 College Avenue
Medford, MA 02155
M. Ann Easterbrooks
Ph.D. University of Michigan, Developmental Psychology;
M.S. University of Wisconsin, Developmental Psychology;
B.A. University of Washington, Clinical and Developmental Psychology
Developmental risk and resilience; child maltreatment; parent-child
emotional availability and attachment relationships; maternal
depression; adolescent parenting; relational and contextual supports
Board Member and Past-President, Boston Institute for the
Development of Infants and Parents; Committee Member and Past-Chair,
Publications Committee, Society for Research in Child Development;
Founding Member and Secretary, Massachusetts Association for Infant
and Early Childhood Mental Health; Editorial Board, Infant Mental
Health Journal; Ad Hoc Reviewer to journals including: Applied
Developmental Science; Attachment and Human Development; Child
Development, Development and Psychopathology, Developmental
Psychology, Early Education and Development; Journal of Consulting
and Clinical Psychology, Journal of Family Issues.
I am an applied developmental scientist whose work focuses on the
individual, relational, familial, and broader contextual
characteristics that present challenges and opportunities for
developmental thriving among infants, young children, and parents.
My work embraces a bioecological approach (Bronfenbrenner, 2001) to
understanding the mutual relations between people and their
contexts. I work within a multidisciplinary approach, collaborating
with investigators and students using both basic and applied
research frameworks (via naturalistic observations in homes, and
laboratory assessments) with the aim of fostering rigorous
scholarship that can be used to inform both theory and practice. The
ultimate goal is to conduct research that can be translated into
programs and policies that will enhance the lives of diverse
children and their families.
I have particular interests in the following topics: resilience,
maternal depression, parent-child emotional availability and
attachment, emotion regulation, child maltreatment, and effects of
relationships (e.g., father-mother, Intimate Partner Violence,
social support; child care provider-parent) on parenting and infant
and child development.
Current Research Projects
Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation
For more than a decade, I
have been a Principal Investigator (with colleagues Profs. Francine
Jacobs, Child Development, and Urban & Environmental Policy and
Planning; and Jayanthi Mistry, Child Development) on the
Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation, an examination of the
Healthy Families Massachusetts (HFM) program. HFM is a statewide
program offered by the Massachusetts Children's Trust Fund that
provides home-visiting based services for parents under the age of
21, from pregnancy until their child's third birthday. The program
aims to support families in positive adaptation of parents and
children. Specific goals include: a) prevention of child abuse and
neglect by fostering positive parenting; b) facilitating parental
educational and occupational attainment; c) preventing repeat teen
pregnancies; d) fostering optimal child health and development; and
e) promoting maternal well-being, including depression. Our approach
is to examine both how the program is implemented in different
contexts that may vary by characteristics of program participants,
community resources and risks; and whether and in what ways the
program is effective in attaining its goals to support and
strengthen families. Currently we are conducting a randomized
controlled trial (RCT) of the program, in which we are examining
treatment and comparison groups of families on indicators of program
Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation Early Childhood
This study is a longitudinal followup of the
families who participated in the RCT evaluation of Healthy Families
Massachusetts (see description above). Data from several early
intervention and prevention programs, some with a home visiting
component, provide support for the need to continue to examine
long-term effects of early service programs. We again are visiting
children and their families in their homes when children are
preschool and kindergarten-aged in order to understand their
developmental trajectories from pregnancy to age six, and potential
longer-term HFM program effects. In addition to examining these
long-term effects on the original goal areas, area of focus of the
longitudinal followup include: a) children's school readiness; b)
children's emotion regulation and executive functioning; c) family
use of, and engagement with, other service programs; d) mother-child
interaction; e) formal supports (e.g., child care, school) and
informal supports (e.g., relationships with fathers of the children,
romantic partners) that may foster positive adaptation.
Toddler Development Project
With Prof. Ellen Pinderhughes, Dr.
Laurie Miller (Tufts School of Medicine), and several graduate
students, I have been conducting a study of the emotion regulation
and adaptation of internationally-adopted toddlers (and a comparison
group of nonadopted toddlers) and their families. This is a
multifaceted study, with data representing individual
psychophysiological measures (cortisol, heart rate, activity level),
behavioral interaction, and family context. We hope to understand
patterns of transition to permanent homes during the first three
Currently I also am collaborating with colleagues at Tufts School of
Medicine and University of Massachusetts Medical School on a study
of feeding practices and child obesity prevention among families of
children with intellectual disabilities.
(asterisk indicates student coauthor)
Swartz, M.* & Easterbrooks, M. A. (in press). The role of parent,
provider, and child characteristics in parent-provider relationships
in infant and toddler classrooms. Early Education and Development.
Easterbrooks, M.A., Bartlett, J.D.*, Beeghly, M., & Thompson, R.A.
(2013). Socioemotional development in infancy. In R. M. Lerner, M.A.
Easterbrooks & J. Mistry (Eds.), Handbook of Psychology, Vol. 6:
Developmental Psychology. (pp. 91-120). Editor in chief: I B.
Weiner. New York: Wiley.
Bartlett, J. D.*, & Easterbrooks, M. A. (2012). Links between
physical abuse in childhood and child neglect among adolescent
mothers. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(11), 2164-2169.
Lerner, R. M., Easterbrooks, M. A., & Mistry, J. (Eds.). (2012).
Handbook of psychology: Vol. 6. Developmental psychology (2nd ed.).
Editor-in- Chief: I. B. Weiner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Easterbrooks, M.A., Bureau, J-F.*, & Lyons-Ruth, K. (2012).
Developmental correlates and predictors of emotional availability in
mother-child interaction: A longitudinal study from infancy to
middle childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 24(1), 65-78.
Biringen, Z., & Easterbrooks, M.A. (2012). The integration of
emotional availability (EA) into a developmental psychopathology
framework: Reflections on the special issue and future directions.
Development and Psychopathology, 24(1), 137-142.
Easterbrooks, M.A., Chaudhuri, J.H., Bartlett, J.D.*, & Copeman, A.*
(2011). Resilience in parenting among young mothers: Family and
ecological risks and opportunities. Children and Youth Services
Review, 33, 42-50.
Vashchenko, M.*, Easterbrooks, M.A., & Miller, L. (2010). Becoming
their mother: Knowledge, attitudes and practices of orphanage
personnel in Ukraine. Infant Mental Health Journal, 31(5), 570-590.
Jacobs, F., Swartz, M.I.*, Bartlett, J.D.*, & Easterbrooks, M.A.
(2010). Placing relationships at the core of early care and
education programs (pp. 341-352). In J. Sparrow & B. Lester (Eds.),
Nurturing children and families: Building on the legacy of T. Berry
Brazelton. NY: Blackwell.
Bureau, J.F.*, Easterbrooks, M.A., & Lyons-Ruth, K. (2009).
Attachment disorganization and controlling behavior in middle
childhood: maternal and child precursors and correlates. Attachment
& Human Development, 11(3), 269-284.
Bureau, J.F.*, Easterbrooks, M.A., & Lyons-Ruth, K. (2009). Maternal
depression in infancy: Critical to children's depression in
childhood and adolescence? Development and Psychopathology, 21 (2),
Biringen, Z., & Easterbrooks, M.A. (2008). Child care and
relationships: Understanding relationships and relationship
interventions. Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 4,
Swartz, M.,* & Easterbrooks, M.A. (2008). Enhancing parent-provider
relationships and communication in infant and toddler classrooms.
Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 4, 53-71.
Riley, S.*, Brady, A.E., Goldberg, J., Jacobs, F., & Easterbrooks,
M.A. (2008). Once the door closes: Understanding the parent/provider
relationship. Children and Youth Services Review, 30 (5), 597-612.
Easterbrooks, M.A., Driscoll, J.R.*, & Bartlett, J.D.* (2008).
Resilience in infancy: A relational approach. Research in Human
Development, 5 (3), 139-152.
Mistry, J., Deshmukh, I.*, & Easterbrooks, M.A. (2007). Culture and
infancy. In A. Slater & M. Lewis (Eds.), Introduction to Infant
Development, 2nd edition. (pp. 303-319). New York: Oxford University
Driscoll, J. R.*, & Easterbrooks, M.A. (2007). Young mothers' play
with their toddlers: Individual variability as a function of
psychosocial factors. Infant and Child Development, 16 (6), 649-670.
Lyons-Ruth, K., & Easterbrooks, M.A. (2006). Assessing mediated
models of family change in response to infant home-visiting: A
two-phase longitudinal analysis. Infant Mental Health Journal, 27,
Easterbrooks, M.A., Chaudhuri, J.H.*, & Gestsdottir, S.* (2005).
Patterns of emotional availability among young mothers and their
infants: A dyadic, contextual analysis. Infant Mental Health
Journal, 26 (4), 309-326.