Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 25 Issue 6 (March 1995), Pages 463-555

Behavioral Intentions: Which Ones Predict Fertility Behavior in Married Couples? (pages 530-555)

The published literature on the relationship between behavioral intentions and fertility behavior exhibits four major problems: inconsistent and confusing use of theoretical constructs, limited use of different types of intentions, use of nonbehavioral outcomes, and failure to explore adequately the couple aspects of the intentions/behavior relationship. The study reported here addresses these problems by using a theoretical framework that characterizes the psychological/behavioral sequence leading to a planned conception, three different types of fertility intentions, a behavioral outcome variable, and data from 196 married couples with no children and 185 married couples with one child. Data analysis results in a simultaneous equation, constrained regression model which indicates that child‐timing intentions are the most important predictors of proceptive behavior over a 3‐1/2 year period and that childbearing intentions are next in importance; that behavioral intentions are the final common pathway through which fertility motivations, attitudes, beliefs, and desires affect behavior; that the use of proceptive behavior as an outcome variable improves the explanatory power of our models; and that the interaction of couple intentions do not demonstrate greater husband or wife influence over couple proceptive behavior but do demonstrate that disagreement has a delaying effect on the onset of that behavior.

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