Understanding the complexity of ambivalence toward pregnancy: Does it predict inconsistent use of contraception?

Sam Hyun Yoo, Karen Benjamin Guzzo, Sarah R. Hayford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Ambivalence towards future pregnancy is common and may increase the risk of unprotected sex and unintended pregnancy. We propose that ambivalent attitudes toward pregnancy consist of subtypes that are differentially associated with contraceptive use. Using data from a nationally representative survey of unmarried young adults (N = 1,147), we constructed four categories of ambivalence based on attitudes toward a hypothetical pregnancy. Multivariate analyses examined characteristics of ambivalence and the association between ambivalence and contraceptive use. Approximately one third of sexually active unmarried young adults are ambivalent about pregnancy. Having positive ambivalence (important to avoid a pregnancy but would be happy if it occurred) is associated with age, gender, education, and Hispanic origin. Although ambivalence toward pregnancy is associated with lower contraceptive use, this is true only among women with negative ambivalence (not important to avoid a pregnancy but would be unhappy if a pregnancy occurred). Attitudes toward pregnancy are multifaceted, and a more nuanced understanding of womens attitudes toward pregnancy can help target prevention programs and related policies for women at risk of unintended pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-66
Number of pages18
JournalBiodemography and Social Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics


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