The role of social-cognitive and emotional factors on exclusive breastfeeding duration

Lee Shepherd, Cherokee Walbey, Brian Lovell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Previous research has suggested that exclusive breastfeeding is likely to be predicted by social-cognitive variables and fear. However, there is little research assessing the role of regret and self-conscious emotions (e.g., pride and guilt) in promoting exclusive breastfeeding. Research Aim: The primary aim of this research was to determine whether social-cognitive variables, fear, regret, and self-conscious emotions predict exclusive breastfeeding duration. The secondary aim of this research was to assess whether these factors predict infant feeding choice (i.e., exclusively breastfed, combination fed, or generally formula-fed). Methods: In this non-experimental one-group self-report survey, 375 mothers rated social-cognitive variables toward breastfeeding (attitude, subjective norm, perceived control and self-efficacy), their fear towards inadequate nutrition from breastfeeding and breastfeeding damaging their physical appearance, and the extent to which mothers may feel pride towards breastfeeding, and negative self-conscious emotions (guilt and shame) and regret for not breastfeeding their infant. Results: Exclusive breastfeeding duration was positively predicted by self-efficacy, pride, and regret, but negatively predicted by the fear towards inadequate nutrition. We also found that in contrast to exclusive breastfeeding, generally formula feeding an infant was associated with lower self-efficacy, pride, regret, but higher subjective norm and fear towards inadequate nutrition through breastfeeding. Conclusions: We argue that it is important to consider the role of self-conscious emotions and regret on exclusive breastfeeding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-613
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


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