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Sibling Interaction

Alan C. Mikkelson

Subject Sociology
Interpersonal Communication » Family Communication

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Sibling relationships can be important and influential throughout the lifespan. During childhood, siblings can influence both personality development and behavior. In adulthood, siblings can be an important source of friendship, support, and information. In old age, siblings are often an important source of both emotional and tangible support. Although much is known about the effects of birth order, family size, and sex differences on intellectual and personality characteristics ( Cicerilli 1995 ), less is known about sibling communication and interaction patterns. Sibling interaction is guided by a set of characteristics that, as a whole, are unique to the sibling relationship. There are six different characteristics that together make the sibling relationship unique. It is pervasive, involuntary and permanent, relatively egalitarian, typically includes a long shared history, is often filled with paradox, and comes in a number of different forms based on family makeup. First, the sibling relationship is pervasive in both its longevity and the number of people who have siblings. A 1998 general social survey reported that 96 percent of American adults have at least one sibling ( National Opinion Research Center 1998 ). The sibling relationship is the longest-lasting relationship in many people's lives, as siblings often stay connected with one another throughout childhood, adulthood, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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