Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Learning Sciences and Human Development

Committee Chair

Anne Nardi.


Many women do not initiate breastfeeding although breastfeeding promotes their baby's health. Three reasons why women do not breastfeed are women's mental organization, cultural beliefs about breastfeeding, and women's breastfeeding personal efficacy beliefs. The conceptual framework for personal efficacy beliefs is Bandura's social-cognitive theory (1992, 1995, 1997). This dissertation used a new research instrument to examine women university students' breastfeeding personal efficacy beliefs. The instrument was tested by mail survey techniques that resulted in a 70.6% respondent rate. University women's personal efficacy beliefs about breastfeeding factored into five factor subscales. In order of magnitude, the personal efficacy belief factors were "How," "When," "Who," "Why," and "What." Initial evidence of satisfactory reliability and validity of the Breastfeeding Personal Efficacy Beliefs Inventory was established. The relationship of academic rank to personal efficacy beliefs about breastfeeding was weakly supported. The findings were an initial empirical description of the development of breastfeeding personal efficacy beliefs in women university students. Interventions for symbolic learning can now be designed from these findings and tested to increase breastfeeding personal efficacy beliefs. Symbolic learning is the one influence on personal efficacy beliefs that does not require actual breastfeeding.