A pregnant behavioral scientist

This is me — 32 weeks — taking a classic hand on the hip picture.

Stage 1: I’m having A baby! (High-level construal)

Stage 1: High level. The baby is far in the future.
  • I just got a pregnancy test. It’s positive: I’m having a baby! At this stage, things feel far in the future - 10 months to be exact!
  • In the high-level construal stage, a person thinks abstractly about the future, they are focused on the bigger picture.
  • While morning sickness may be very much present, the actual baby actually feels psychologically distant.

Stage 2: I’m having THIS baby. (Low-level construal)

Stage 2: Low level. The baby is coming.
  • There is a baby in me and it will soon come out.
  • Around week 20 (midway!), I moved from a high-level construal stage to a low-level construal stage. Things became more concrete. The baby felt (and feels!) psychologically closer
  • In this stage, I started planning the future daycare, googling ‘how to avoid preeclampsia’, who would be our pediatrician and of course, I quadrupled my effort on finding the perfect name.

A puzzle: The Gender Gap

For women, this move from high level to low-level construal stages appears to come around 2nd or 3rd trimester, when the baby starts kicking and you start to noticeably show. The internet agrees — most prenatal articles are written targeting women around the 2nd trimester. Either consumerism is leading us, or we are leading it.

Phil.

The better explanation — people

My main hypothesis is — other people. My friends and family are to blame.

What’s the lesson here?

This is not a suggestion for people to talk about pregnancy MORE with men/Phil and Less with the female/me. This is not a feminist rant.

So what?? What’s the insight?

If you want to speed up a life transition or change — tell people about the life transition.

  • A PUBLIC life transition.
    My friend is writing a book. She started a newsletter for people to follow her progress. She knows that every time she goes out to dinner with a friend, they will ask her how the book is doing and what’s changed. She will have to answer this question.
  • V.s. A PRIVATE life Transition
    Another friend is considering a career change. She’s stuck in a loop of deciding what she wants and when — she’s private.
    Imagine if she were to mass email her network and ask for referrals/intros. She’d make her life transition public. It’s likely the next time her friends see her, they will ask her how it’s going. She would have to answer. Saying “no progress” could work for a while, but it would get embarrassing soon. She’ll need to answer the question!

From resentment…to reality

Given pregnancy is written on my t-shirt, I can’t start any conversation without debriefing that I will soon be a mother.

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Kristen Berman

Kristen Berman

Thinking about Irrationality. Behavioral Scientist. Co-founder of Irrational Labs and Common Cents Lab.