Published as a separate and in The Journal of Psychology, 1976,92, 109-112
RISKY AND SAFE CONTRACEPTORS: SOME PERSONALITY FACTORS*’ The University of Alberta, Canada
ANN L. HARVEY SUMMARY Female university students ( N = 191) categorized as users of risky or safe contraceptives were compared on the following personality measures: Rotter’s Internal-External Scale, Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, Rosen’s Value Orientation Scale, and Srole’s Anomie Scale. Safe contraceptors had significantly higher levels of striving for the present and for five years hence than risky contraceptors. There were no significant differences between the two groups on the remaining measures. A.
Previous researchers have attempted to explain behavior involving the use of contraceptives by relating use to various personality constructs. Rotter’s ( 6 ) theory of internal-external (I-E) control seems particularly likely to account for type of contraception used. Presumably a person who believes she controls her destiny would not risk an unplanned pregnancy. Lundy’s (4) data support this assumption. The 45 percent of his female undergraduate sexually active sample who were contraceptive users were significantly more internalizing than the sexually active noncontraceptive users. Gough ( 2 ) found no significant differences on the I-E scale among female Ss separated into four groups on the basis of acceptability of different contraceptives. Gough’s four groupings of contraceptives were derived through factor analysis and included one group that could be described as noncontraceptive use (i.e., abstinence, withdrawal, and rhythm) and one group that could be described as risky contraceptives (i.e., condom, diaphragm, and foam or jelly). The conflict between Lundy’s and Gough’s findings would indicate the need for further study of the relationship between contraceptive use and level of internal-external control in sexually active Ss.
* Received in the Editorial Office on November 17, 1975, and published immediately at Provincetown, Massachusetts. Copyright by The Journal Press. 1 This research was supported by a grant from the Alberta Advisory Committee for Educational Studies. 109
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Kar ( 3 ) found a positive relationship between level of striving, value orientation, social optimism, and using contraceptives before the first pregnancy as compared to after the first pregnancy. His sample consisted of married women of lower socioeconomic status. No data exploring contraceptive use by university coeds as it relates to these motivational measures have been reported. The research described here was designed to provide those data as part of a larger study of reasons for failing to use contraceptives and opinions about who should have access to contraceptives. The hypotheses tested were that users of safe contraceptives, in comparison with users of risky contraceptives, would 1) have a more internal locus of control; 2) have a higher level of striving ( a ) for the reported past, (6) for the present, ( c ) for the anticipated future; 3 ) have a more positive value orientation; and 4) be more socially optimistic.
B. METHOD 1. Subjects A sample of 461 female undergraduates was randomly drawn from second and third year students in one faculty in a major western Canadian university. Replies received from 3 16 respondents were grouped according to sexual experience and type of contraceptive experience. No sexual experience was reported by 125 Ss; safe contraceptive experience was reported by 147 Ss (146 with the pill, 13 with an I U D ) ; and only risky contraceptive experience by 44 Ss (five with a diaphragm, seven with foam, three with jelly, 23 with a condom, 18 with rhythm, and 10 with no contraceptive). Many Ss reported experience with more than one type of contraceptive. SS without sexual experience were deleted from the data analysis reported here. Of the 191 sexually active subjects, 32 percent were or had been married. 2 . Materials and Procedure
Instruments responded to by mailed questionnaire included the InternalExternal Scale ( 6 ) , Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Striving Scale ( l ) , Rosen’s Value Orientation Scale ( 5 ) , and Srole’s Anomie Scale ( 7 ) . An item related to sexual experience and past or anticipated use of various contraceptives accompanied the instruments. Mean scores of safe and risky contraceptors on each of the measures were compared by means of the Student’s t test.
C. RESULTS Safe contraceptors did not have significantly different scores on the Internal-External Scale from risky contraceptors ( t 1 3 1 = .469). The mean scores were 10.87 and 10.41, respectively. Sample size for this scale was re-
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duced by 58 Ss who failed to answer some or all of the items as directed. Written-in comments indicated frustration and irritation with the choices provided in some of the items. Past scores on the Cantril Scale were not significantly different between safe (mean = 5.8) and risky (mean = 5.37) contraceptors ( t 1 8 5 = 1.417). Present scores on the Cantril Scale were significantly different ( p < .05) between the two groups (safe mean = 6.92, risky mean = 6.44, t l 8 6 = 1.974). Future scores on the Cantril Scale were also significantly different (P < .01) between the two groups (safe mean = 8.67, risky mean = 7.93, t’51.9, = 2.933) .* Value Orientation scores were not significantly different between safe (mean = 4.42) and risky (mean = 4.37) contraceptors = .335). Anomie scores, as well, showed no significant difference between groups (safe mean = 3.46, risky mean = 3.62, t18a = -.739).
D. DISCUSSION The data provided no basis for accepting hypothesis 1. Interpretation of the response to the I-E scale is confused by the reluctance of close to onequarter of the respondents to identify their preference for one out of each pair of statements in the scale. The lack of significant difference between risky and safe contraceptors finds some parallel in Gough’s data, although he asked his Ss to indicate acceptability of contraceptives only and not actual use. Hypothesis 2 was supported by the data for differences between safe and risky contraceptors on present and future ratings of levels of striving. On a scale ranging from “best possible life for you” to “worst possible life for you,” safe contraceptors placed themselves significantly higher than risky contraceptors for both the present and five years from now. There was no basis for accepting the hypothesis that safe contraceptors rated their past level of striving any higher than risky contraceptors. There was no basis for recognizing any significant difference between safe and risky contraceptors on measures of positive value orientation (hypothesis 3) or social optimism (hypothesis 4). Responses to these measures did not appear to relate to differences in contraceptive choices in a university sample. REFERENCES 1. CANTRIL,H. Patterns of Human Concerns. New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers Univ.
The Welsh T prime adjustment of t tests for unequal variances was used, since the P test for sample variances was significant at p < .01.
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GOUGH,H. G. A factor analysis of contraceptive preferences. J . of Psychol., 197.1, 84, 199-210. KAR, S. B . Individual aspirations as related t o early and late acceptance of contraception. J . Soc. Psychol., 1971, 83, 2.35-245. LUNDY,J. R. Some personality correlates of contraceptive use among unmarried female college students. J . of Psychol., 1972, 80, 9-14, ROSEN, B. C. The achievement syndrome: A psychocultural dimension of social stratification. Amer. Sociolog. Rev., 1956, 21, 203-2 11. ROTTER,J. B. Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychol. Monog., 1966, 80( l ) , Whole No. 609. SROLE,L. Social integration and certain corollaries: An exploratory study. Amer. Sociolog. Rev., 1956, 21, 709-716.
Department of Secondary Education The University o/ Alberta Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E1