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Int J Psychol. 2013;48(5):954-63. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2012.720376. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Response expectancy versus response hope in predicting birth-related emotional distress and pain.

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Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.


Response expectancies and response hopes have been shown to be two distinct constructs with important implications for nonvolitional outcomes. More specifically, studies show that response expectancies: (1) are sufficient to cause nonvolitional outcomes, (2) are not mediated by other psychological variables, and (3) are self-confirming while seemingly automatic. A new programmatic research line has differentiated between people's response expectancies and their response hopes regarding nonvolitional outcomes and showed that even if response hope and response expectancy are separate constructs, they are not unrelated. These concepts have not yet been studied in pregnant women. Moreover, determining the causal factors that best explain the variance of emotional distress and pain in pregnancy is of great importance. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the interrelations between response expectancy and response hope in pregnant women with respect to (1) emotional distress prior to giving birth and (2) pain during giving birth. Additionally, self-reported labor hours were analyzed as a secondary outcome. Results show that response expectancy for pain directly predicts pain, and that the discrepancy between response hopes and response expectancies is a strong predictor of investigated outcomes. Thus, our results support the idea that preventive psychological interventions for pregnant women should emphasize adjusting response expectancies and response hopes regarding the pain and emotional distress associated with giving birth. We believe that the results have both theoretical and practical implications and the topic deserves further investigation.

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