Personality and ambivalence in decisions about becoming parents

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Martin Pinquart
Carolin Stotzka
Rainer K. Silbereisen
Cite this article:  Pinquart, M., Stotzka, C., & Silbereisen, R. (2008). Personality and ambivalence in decisions about becoming parents. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 36(1), 87-96.


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Decisions about becoming parents are difficult to make, and individuals may face ambivalence between hoped-for positive and feared negative aspects of parenthood. Using two samples, we analyzed whether personality is related to ambivalence in parenthood decisions and with coping with ambivalence. In the first study, high levels of neuroticism and low levels of agreeableness were related to higher ambivalence. In the second study, psychological vulnerability was associated with higher ambivalence. Individuals with high levels of extraversion were more likely to seek social support if parenthood decisions became too difficult, and persons with higher levels of openness to experience were more likely to make decisions based on their feelings. Associations of neuroticism with avoidant coping were mediated by level of ambivalence. The conclusion drawn is that sex education with adolescents should include information about ambivalence and promote adequate ways of coping with this phenomenon.

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