Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Child Development

Committee Chair(s)

Don C. Carter


Don C. Carter


Eldon Drake


Carroll Lambert


The views held by children about the ere at ion and birth of babies are of importance in child development and developmental psychology. However, most of the research done in this area has been of a theoretical nature rather than empirical. The research shows controversy in the child's concept of human conception and birth, and because of this controversy a study was deemed necessary to find out more of what the young child's concept is of human conception and birth.

The purpose of this study, therefore, was to attempt to determine the extent of children's awareness of the nature of human conception and birth. The objectives of this study were to investigate the nature of the child's understanding and awareness of human conception and birth, as well as to investigate the influence of such factors as the child's sex and age, and the social class of the family. The hypotheses were that young children would have a realistic awareness and understanding of human conception and birth and that there would be differences between children of different social class backgrounds, children of different sex groups, and children of different age groups in their understanding and awareness of human conception and birth. In order to test these hypotheses, a questionnaire consisting of eleven questions was devised to explore what concepts these young children have i n their awareness and understanding of human conception and birth.

The children studied were selected according to age and social class and consisted of sixty children: 20 kindergarten children, 20 nursery school children, and 20 Head Start children. Each of these groups was fairly equal in the number of boys and girls questioned. The questions were administered in the same order. A few of the quest ions were eliminated if the child could not answer a preceding one. The responses to questions were t hen recorded by the frequency of the response. Because of the nature of this study, no statistical data could be applied; rather, the three groups were compared according to their responses and the number given to each response.

The results of this study show that young children are realistically aware of human conception and birth but they do not have a full understanding of the total process. This study also reveals a great difference in the children's responses among the social classes studied, with the Head Start children being deviant from the other two groups in that they're much less well informed. Among the different age groups, the older group was better informed than were the younger children. A frequency test was done on the two sex groups, in relation to their response s, but no differences were found.