Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology and Anthropology


Characteristics of Low-Income, Black, Midwestern Teenage Mothers is an exploratory project based on interviews with 26 Midwestern, black, and low-income adolescent mothers. Of these 26 mothers, 20 mothers had one child and six mothers had more than one child. Each interview obtained qualitative data pertaining to the participant's family background; romantic/sexual relationships; reproductive history and plans; use of and attitude toward birth control; the experience of parenting; and future ambitions for mother and child. The interview schedule also obtained quantitative data regarding the participant's cognitive perception of the environment as measured by a modified version of Martin E. P. Seligman's Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ). The modified version of the Attributional Style Questionnaire included five hypothetical positive events such as: (1) "You meet a friend who compliments you on your appearance"; (2) "You become very rich"; (3) "You complete your homework and it is highly praised"; (4) "Your boyfriend has been treating you more lovingly"; and (5) "You want something very badly and you get it". The modified version also included four negative events: (1) "A friend comes to you with a problem and you don't try to help him /her"; (2) "You give an opinion in front of the class and the class reacted negatively at you"; (3) "You meet a friend who acts mad at you"; and (4) "You go out on a date and it goes badly". The recruitment and the interviewing of participants was concluded when the researcher encountered several dangerous situations. As a result, this study has a total sample size of 26. This limitation precludes the researcher from making comparisions between mothers with one and mothers with two children, as had been planned. In spite of these limitations, the project does provide information that reveals teenage mothers' (1) desire academic achievement; (2) want to be good parents; and (3) perceive their environment as neutral or without learned helplessness. This project can also offer some suggestions for insuring the safety of future researchers during field studies. Finally, this exploratory project confirms the findings of several other researchers regarding the age relationship between the mother/father pairs; and for the teen mother, having a maternal history of adolescent childbearing.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Sociology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Lu Ellen Schorle March, 1997

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