Personality characteristics of unwed mothers
Mazurkewich, Sandra Ann
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The purpose of the present study was to determine what effects (if any) an unplanned, out of wedlock pregnancy has on various personality characteristics of unwed mothers, both pre- and post-parturition, and to determine if there were any differences between the girls who decided to keep their child and the girls who decided to surrender their child for adoption. The personality characteristics measured and the instruments used to measure them were the following: locus of control (James 1-E Scale); need for approval (Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale-M-e Scale); Real self concept, self-esteem, ideal self concept, self-adjustment (Bills Index of Adjustment and Values - BIAV); and "submissiveness" and "ego strength" (16PF - Form C). The subjects were single women who were pregnant for the first time and were receiving assistance from the Department of Social Services, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Ten girls, with a mean age of 18.1 years, made the decision to keep their child and nine girls, with a mean age of 18.8 years, made the decision to surrender their child for adoption. The girls were assessed approximately one and one-half months pre-parturition and again completed the 16PF and the BIAV one and one-half months after parturition. The control group consisted of twelve single, never pregnant females with a mean age of 19.9 years. They were also assessed twice (with a three month interval between assessments). The data obtained from the 1-E scale and the M-C scale was analyzed by a one way analysis of variance model. The data obtained from the BlAV and the 16 PF was analyzed by a two factor, fixed effects analysis of variance model. The results showed that during pregnancy, unwed mothers are low on real self concept and self-esteem but following parturition, their real self concept and self-esteem rises to a level equivalent to that of single, never pregnant girls. It was also found that during pregnancy the unwed mothers were low on "ego strength" but following delivery of their child they were not different from single, never pregnant women on "ego strength". In general, the psychological trauma of unwed motherhood is not as severe as is popularly believed as is evidenced by the fact that even the personality characteristics that are affected during pregnancy show no differences between unwed mothers after parturition and single, never pregnant girls. The self-esteem level of both the girls who placed their child for adoption and the girls who kept their child improved significantly after delivery of the child. Following parturition the girls who kept their child had a significantly higher real self concept and ideal self concept than the girls who placed their child for adoption. It was also found that the girls who kept their child were more dependent and tended to lean on others when making decisions but otherwise they were not more "submissive". Both groups scored equally on "ego strength" while they were pregnant and for both groups, their "ego strength" improved with parturition. In general, the differences between the girls who keep their child and the girls who place their child for adoption are slight and after parturition, both groups appear equally able to accept and adjust to their decision of whether to keep or place their child for adoption.