Mothers' affect dysregulation, depressive symptoms, and emotional availability during mother-infant interaction

Open Access
Kim, Bo-Ram
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Douglas Michael Teti, Thesis Advisor
  • Pamela Marie Cole, Thesis Advisor
  • affect dysregulation
  • depressive symptoms
  • emotional availability
  • mother-infant interaction
Disturbances in affective regulatory processes have previously been linked to psychological difficulties and disorders, particularly those involving personality disorder symptoms (Briere & Runtz, 2002). The current study examines mothers’ affect dysregulation and maternal depressive symptoms as predictors of maternal emotional availability (EA) during mother-infant interaction, as well as whether affect dysregulation is more important than depressive symptoms in predicting EA. Questionnaire measures and 30 minutes of free play were obtained from 46 mothers of 4-5-month-old children. Whereas mothers’ self-reported affective dysregulatory processes correlated negatively with EA, mothers’ depressive symptoms did not. More specifically, mothers’ tendency to use unhealthy externalizing behavior to reduce tension and distress was particularly important in predicting EA. These results suggest that in relatively low-risk samples, mothers’ self-reported affect dysregulation, particularly their tendencies to act out negatively in response to tension and distress, may be a more salient predictor of emotional availability than depressive symptoms.