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Barber, Jennifer S., Heather Gatny, Yasamin Kusunoki, and Jennifer Eckerman Yarger. 2010. "Attitudes Predicting Pregnancies Reported in an Online Weekly Survey: Preliminary Results." PSC Research Report No. 10-704. May 2010.
We have three goals in this paper. First, we assess the relationship between a very wide array of attitudinal measures and early pregnancy. We find a wide range of attitudinal measures that predict pregnancy rates among young women. Particularly strong and consistent predictors include perceptions of friends’ and parents’ approval of pregnancy and related behaviors; positive perceptions of others who become pregnant and engage in related behaviors; desires, willingness, and expectations to become pregnant and engage in related behaviors; general attitudes toward pregnancy and related behaviors, particularly attitudes that the respondent is not ready for sex, birth control is a hassle, and pregnancy has negative consequences; positive attitudes toward caring for children; and the respondent’s perception that she may be unable to become pregnant. Second, we explore the proximate determinants that explain the relationship between attitudes and pregnancy. Overall, attitudinal measures that are related to sexual behavior are explained by actual sexual behavior, measures that are related to contraceptive use are explained by contraceptive behavior, and attitudes that are not limited to sex or contraception tend to be explained by both behaviors. Finally, we find general support for two broad types of attitude-behavior models described in the literature: rational models that posit a direct link between wanting to become pregnant (and have a baby) and actually becoming pregnant, and models that posit an irrational component to behavior. Next steps for the paper include further testing and refinement of our measures of mediating variables, and more formally testing the theoretical models.
Country of focus: United States.