A Pregnant Behavioral Scientist

March 22, 2022  |  By: Kristen Berman
pregnant behavioral scientist
Pregnant behavioral scientist Kristen Berman

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

What’s It like Being a Pregnant Behavioral Scientist?

Stage 1: I’m Having a Baby! (High-Level Construal)

Stage 1: High level. The baby is far in the future.

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 are 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.

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.

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.

Pregnant Behavioral Scientist meme

Great, But What’s the Insight?

If you want to speed up a life transition or change — tell people about the life transition. You don’t have to be a pregnant behavioral scientist to do this.

  • 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.
  • Vs. a PRIVATE life transition
    Another friend is considering a career change. She’s stuck in a loop of deciding what she wants and when. Imagine if she were to mass email her network and ask for referrals/intros. Now, this is public. People know. It’s likely the next time they see her, they will ask how it’s going. She will have to answer. Saying “no progress” could work for a while, but it will get embarrassing soon. She’ll want to answer the question!

A Pregnant Behavioral Scientist Goes 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.

And at first, I resented this.

I wanted nothing more than to maintain a level of interestingness, and we all know, talking about someone else’s child is wildly low on the scale of interestingness.

However, this pregnant behavioral scientist has come to change my mind.

By engaging with others, this life transition feels more real. My friends and family are helping me mentally prepare for what’s about to happen. If I were to pop out a child without any build-up (find out I’m pregnant and tomorrow have child) this would be way way too quick!

By having this transition be top of mind (and top of conversation) I am actually mentally preparing in helpful ways.

Now my only question is when Phil will enter Stage 2.

I may have to treat him the same way others treated me. Soon, this pregnant behavioral scientist is going to start asking about his birth plan.

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