ABSTRACT Popular media often contain storylines focused on pregnancy and infertility. These storylines have the potential to perpetuate stigmatization related to these issues. According to the differential susceptibility to media effects model (DSMM), lay infertility beliefs could serve as either predictors or outcomes of pregnancy-focused media viewership, with moral sanction theory and cultivation theory supporting competing hypotheses. Further, viewership could impact fertility awareness, meaning knowledge of physiological and medical factors related to fertility. The current study tested how viewership of 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom is related to infertility beliefs and fertility awareness in an online survey. Participants (N = 990) were on average 39.5 years old, 53.9% female, 77.9% white, and 38.9% had more than a high school degree. Structural equation modeling revealed that infertility beliefs served as predictors, but not outcomes, of viewership. Participants with the stigmatizing belief that infertility is caused by being immoral, ungodly, or unmotherly/unfatherly were drawn to 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom. However, the outcome of viewership was improved knowledge of the biological/medical aspects of fertility. Although scholars have cited concerns about 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom, findings suggest that viewing these programs could have educational benefits beyond reducing teen pregnancy.

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