Less-conscious values decision-making in Afro-American women concerning infant feeding choice

Dale Muther Allison, University of Pennsylvania


Behavior is a function of values mediated by perception (Dwyer, 1989). Although breastfeeding is both an instinctive and learned mammalian behavior, women throughout the world are increasingly choosing to bottlefeed their offspring rather than breastfeed. Both national and international health organizations recognize that breastfeeding is healthier for infants. There are world-wide efforts to encourage breastfeeding. Afro-American women have had the largest decrease in breastfeeding of American women. This is a comparative study to determine if the behavior of infant feeding choice is related to values, less-conscious values and/or feelings of internal or external belief concerning locus of control. One hundred and twenty-eight (128) pregnant Afro-American women participated in the study. Of the sixty-five (65) who planned to breastfeed, more adolescents and older mothers chose breastfeeding than women between the ages of eighteen to thirty-four years old. Breastfeeding mothers stated more often that they valued friends, honesty, God, contentment and feeling well. Less-conscious values unfolded strong needs for feel good, happiness, personal peace, security and self. The health locus of control for the breastfeeding mother was mildly internal. Bottlefeeding mothers valued their mothers, health and life. Bottlefeeding mothers less-conscious values reflected needs for recognition, a stronger need for happiness than breastfeeding mothers, goals, commitment, security, and responsibility. Bottlefeeding women were mildly external in their heath locus of control. In the development of educational or media programs to encourage breastfeeding, the values, less-conscious values and health locus of control are instrumental in influencing women's infant feeding choice. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology|Education, Educational Psychology|Health Sciences, Nursing

Recommended Citation

Allison, Dale Muther, "Less-conscious values decision-making in Afro-American women concerning infant feeding choice" (1994). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9427490.