Body image and pregnancy : application of the theory of reasoned action
Past research has demonstrated that there are numerous medical and psychological consequences when a woman with an eating disorder becomes pregnant. There has been a paucity of research, however, examining the attitudes towards pregnancy of women with body image issues/eating disorders and how these attitudes subsequently affect intentions to become pregnant. The present study examines intentions to become pregnant among a sample of women ranging in level of body image concerns using the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) as a framework (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980). Two hundred and forty-two females from an introductory psychology class completed a questionnaire, including the Eating Disorder Inventory (Garner, 1991) and specific scales targeting the components of the TRA developed for the present study. As expected, all TRA precursors to intentions were positively correlated with intentions to become pregnant, while contrary to predictions, body image was not correlated with intentions. In partial support of the TRA, a multiple regression analysis revealed that, for all participants, the subjective norm of pregnancy and perceived benefits of pregnancy were predictive of intentions to become pregnant. Perceived costs of pregnancy, however, evidenced no ability to predict intentions to become pregnant. Although results failed to support the prediction that those with high body image concerns would indicate a lower intention to become pregnant, significant differences among those with high versus low body image concerns did emerge. Specifically, participants with high body image concerns reported greater perceived costs of pregnancy as well as a greater likelihood of engaging in weight control behaviours during pregnancy. Implications, as well as practical applications of these findings are discussed.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorLawson, Karen L.
Copyright DateMarch 2005
theory of reasoned action