Disentangling Subjective Norms: The Social Effects of Friends and Parents on Unintended Young Pregnancy

Ellen Compernolle, University of Michigan

This paper examines the role of perceived norms in predicting unintended pregnancy rates among young women. Working within the theory of planned behavior framework, I assess the relationship between fertility-related subjective norms and unintended early pregnancy, with particular interest in whose – friends’ or parents’ – and what type – attitudes or behaviors - of norms best predict pregnancy. Next, I explore how these effects vary by parity, finding that various fertility-related perceived norms predict pregnancy, and that these effects vary by parity. Particularly strong predictors include perceptions of friends’ approval on first pregnancies; perceptions of friends’ behavior on second pregnancies; and a combination of friends’ and parents’ norms on third pregnancies. Findings from this study shed light on how a young adult understands or perceive her social reality and how these perceptions of what is “normal” or “right” amongst family and friends influence pregnancy outcomes.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility Intentions and Behavior