Pregnancy Decision Making as a Significant Life Event: A Commitment Approach

John Lydon, Christine Dunkel-Schetter, Catherine L. Cohan, Tamarha Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


A value-laden basis for commitment to goals and the behavioral and affective sequelae of commitment were examined in the context of a stressful life event. Fifty-seven women who were interviewed during a clinic visit for a pregnancy test (Time 1 [T1]) subsequently received positive test results and were then interviewed 2 days later (Time 2 [T2]) and a month later (Time 3 [T3]). The intentionality and the meaning of the pregnancy were associated with self-reported commitment to the pregnancy at T1. In turn, commitment predicted affective states both prior to (T1) and shortly after (T2) receiving test results. Initial commitment also predicted decisions to continue versus to terminate the pregnancy. The decision to continue the pregnancy appeared to bolster self-reported commitment. Relatedly, those continuing the pregnancy reported smoking fewer cigarettes at T3 than at T1. For those aborting the pregnancy, commitment at T1 was negatively related to adjustment at T3. Initial commitment predicted subsequent depression, guilt, and hostility among those who aborted, whereas commitment predicted anxiety among those who continued the pregnancy. Other correlates of commitment (pregnancy concerns, religion, abortion history, and other life goals) were explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-151
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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