The effects of ambivalent fertility desires on pregnancy risk in young women in the USA

Popul Stud (Camb). 2013;67(1):25-38. doi: 10.1080/00324728.2012.738823. Epub 2012 Dec 13.


Many different definitions of the construct of motivational ambivalence have appeared in the literature on reproductive health. Using a theoretical framework in which motivational ambivalence is defined as an interaction between positive and negative pregnancy desires, we propose two hypotheses. The first is that positive and negative pregnancy desires independently predict the risk of an unplanned pregnancy. The second is that ambivalence and three related constructs that are also based on the interaction between positive and negative desires are each important predictors of pregnancy risk. We use weekly journal data collected from a US sample of 1,003 women aged 18-19 years and conduct hazard model analysis to test our hypotheses. Using both dummy and continuous predictors, we report results that confirm both hypotheses. The proposed interaction framework has demonstrated validity, compares favourably with previously reported alternative approaches, and incorporates a set of constructs that have potential importance for further research directed at the prevention of unplanned pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Pregnancy / psychology
  • Pregnancy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult