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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26155

Title: The Construction of Self-identity and Positive Behavioural Change in Pregnant and Parenting Young Women
Authors: Breen, Andrea
Advisor: Arnold, Mary Louise
Department: Human Development and Applied Psychology
Keywords: identity
narrative
positive youth development
early motherhood
Issue Date: 15-Feb-2011
Abstract: The purpose of this mixed method study was to investigate the relationship between the narrative construction of self-identity and positive change in antisocial behaviour in pregnant and parenting young women. It focused on two related aspects of identity development: (1) individuals’ conceptualizations of their personally salient self-values; and (2) “self-action coherence”: the process of constructing self-narratives that establish coherence between one’s personally salient self-values and behaviour. This study also included a qualitative exploration of how becoming a mother in adolescence and early adulthood is related to processes of identity development and behavioural change. Participants were 27 pregnant and parenting young women (ages 16 to 22) recruited from youth-serving agencies in Toronto, Ontario. Participants completed a questionnaire on history of engagement in antisocial behaviour and a semi-structured interview that explored self-identity and critical life experiences. Analyses of participant interviews suggest that positive behavioural change in pregnant and parenting young women is related to active engagement in self-reflection motivated by a convergence of meaning gleaned from a variety of life experiences, including the transition to motherhood. Quantitative findings suggest that: (1) an orientation to relational values is related to lower reported recent engagement in antisocial behaviour; (2) self-action coherence develops across adolescence and early adulthood; and (3) self-action coherence is related to reported positive behavioural change. Overall, the findings suggest that an orientation to relationships is important for establishing positive patterns of behaviour and that positive behavioural change in pregnant and parenting young women involves a process of constructing personally salient self-values and establishing behaviours that cohere with these values. The findings have theoretical implications relating to identity development in adolescence and early adulthood and its relations to behavioural functioning. The findings also have implications for applied work with pregnant and parenting young women with histories of antisocial behaviour.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26155
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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