Parents’ Information Seeking Behavior Regarding Infant Feeding: Understanding the Importance of Demographic Characteristics and Trust

Open Access
Heidle, Courtney
Area of Honors:
Human Development and Family Studies
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr. Meg Leavy Small, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lesley Anne Ross, Honors Advisor
  • Information Seeking
  • Obesity Prevention
  • Childhood Obesity Prevention
  • Infant Feeding Information Seeking
  • Trust
  • Cognitive Heuristics of Trust
  • Authority
  • Self-confirmation
  • Comprehensive Model of Information Seeking
Increasing parents’ engagement with evidence-based information that supports healthy child feeding practices is an important strategy for reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. The purpose of the current study was to explore how select demographic characteristics and two cognitive heuristics (i.e. processes of evaluation) of trust (self-confirmation and authority) were associated with parents’ naturally occurring information seeking behaviors regarding child feeding. Participants were parents whose oldest child was 24 months of age or younger. The research aims were: (1) to describe the context of parents’ information seeking behavior regarding child feeding; (2) to describe parents’ reported use of self-confirmation and authority when evaluating child feeding information; (3) to explore associations among demographic characteristics, self-confirmation, and authority; and (4) to explore how demographic characteristics, self-confirmation, and authority were associated with the sources parents most recently used to obtain advice or information about child feeding. To address the study aims, descriptive analyses, Pearson correlations, one-way ANOVA’s, chi-square tests of independence, and t-tests were conducted using the specific variables relevant to each aim. After completing the analyses relevant to the main aims of the study, additional post-hoc analyses were conducted to gain a more holistic understanding of the context of parents’ information seeking behavior regarding child feeding. The study results revealed that parents frequently engaged in various information searches regarding child feeding topics using a wide variety of sources. Parents reported high levels of trust and satisfaction in sources. There were no significant associations between demographic characteristics and the use of cognitive heuristics of trust; however, source use was predicted in part by parents’ demographic characteristics, self-confirmation, and authority. Potential explanations and limitations of the study findings were considered.