Demographic, Psychological, and Combined Approaches as Determinants of Family Planning-Related Attitudes and Behavior

by Geoffrey A. Hirsch, Master of Arts in Demography (1975)

The study is based on a field experiment conducted in Muñoz, an agricultural community in the Philippine province of Nueva Ecija. From its citizenry of reproductive age five per cent stratified sample was drawn.

The thesis concerns itself primarily with determining the relative receptivity to two family planning comics intended for Filipinos in the reproductive ages, arid with assessing their effectiveness in changing reproductive goals and family planning attitudes and behavior.

Both comics were produced for this research. Mahirap ang Marami (“Having Many is Difficult”), which makes a personal/family appeal, is said to employ a psychological approach. Matched with it by length and ten other social media criteria is Masikip ang Daigdig (“Crowded World”), which differs from it primarily in that it makes a community/national appeal. It is said to employ a demographic approach. Within the confines of this research, a recipient of a combined approach received both of the above materials, while those in the control group received neither material.

Type of exposure is the crucial independent variable and, thus, serves as the basis for segregation by barrio.

The dependent variable are categorized by levels of influence: general receptivity to the materials being the lowest level, with changes in reproductive goals, family planning attitudes and then behavior, being successively higher levels of influence.

The Post-Test Only Control Group Design, a valid research design which adequately controls for testing as main effect and interaction, was followed. Under its assumption of pre-experimental equality, differences on the dependent variables can be perceived as change attributable to type of exposure, i.e., to the demographic material, to the psychological material or to a combination of both materials.

Great receptivity to the materials at the first level was clearly shown. Hey were much better received than other well-known family planning comic materials, the psychological slightly more than demographic. On the second and third level of reproductive goals and family planning attitudes, the materials were also shown to have effect, at least, insofar as it concerns others’ reproductive goals, the psychological slightly more than the demographic. When it comes to the highest level of influence, behavior, there were differences favoring particularly the demographic group, but these differences were not significant.

The general findings are that the experimental materials do have a significant effect; there is no point in providing a respondent with both materials; and it is a toss-up as to which material is more effective, with a slight edge to the psychological material. The findings, based on the variable ideal family size, parallel these general findings and it can, thus, be seen as a surrogate for the whole set of dependent variables in the following:

While there is no difference between the control and experimental groups’ mean ideal family sizes for those who had never gone to a family planning clinic before the experimental comics were distributed, there is a significant difference of half a child between the control and experimental groups’ mean ideal family size for those who have previously gone to a family planning clinic. The materials can, thus, be regarded as reinforcement rather than motivation.

Finally, those who have completed no more than elementary education seem to be benefitted more by receipt of the psychological material, while those who have completed at least one year of high school seem to be benefited more by receipt of the demographic material.

Aside from future research, one could, based on the findings, recommend that:
  1. The two materials be mass-produced, and in roughly equal numbers.
  2. Such materials should be distributed for those of reproductive ages through family planning clinics.
  3. There is no point in giving anyone both materials. Just give one or the other. Those who have completed no more than elementary education should receive the psychological material and those who have completed at least one year of high school receive the demographic material.