Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 36, Issue 7, pp 963–972 | Cite as

Explaining Sibling Similarities: Perceptions of Sibling Influences

  • Shawn D. Whiteman
  • Susan M. McHale
  • Ann C. Crouter
Original Paper


This study examined older siblings’ influence on their younger brothers and sisters by assessing the connections between youth's perceptions of sibling influence and sibling similarities in four domains: Risky behavior, peer competence, sports interests, and art interests. Participants included two adolescent-age siblings (firstborn age M=17.34; second-born age M=14.77) from 191 maritally intact families. Analyses revealed that second-borns’ perceptions of influence were positively linked to siblings’ reports of intimacy and temporal involvement, but not to reports of negativity. Further, sibling similarities were most evident when younger siblings reported sibling influence and when their older brothers and sisters reported high engagement, competence, or interest in a particular domain. Discussion focuses on the challenges of documenting sibling influence and the need to refine its measurement.


Sibling influence Sibling similarities Social learning 



This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD32336) to Ann C. Crouter and Susan M. McHale. We are grateful to the families who participated in this project. We thank Aryn Dotterer, Melissa Fortner, Ji-Yeon Kim, Lilly Shanahan, Cindy Shearer, Christina Chhin, Kristen Johnston, Sandee Hemann, and all of undergraduate students and staff for their assistance in conducting this investigation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shawn D. Whiteman
    • 1
  • Susan M. McHale
    • 2
  • Ann C. Crouter
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Child Development and Family StudiesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteIndiana
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityPennsylvaniaUSA

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