Within-Family Variability in Representations of Past Relationships With Parents


Background We examined within-family variation in siblings’ memories of experiences with parents and their associations with current positive and negative affect.

Methods Participants were 1,369 adults with at least 1 sibling, aged 26–74 years from 498 families in the MacArthur Study of Midlife in the United States (Mage = 47 years, 59% women, 94% White).

Results There was considerable variability in recalled maternal and paternal treatment across the dimensions of affection (intraclass correlation coefficients [ICCs] 0.33 and 0.41, respectively), discipline (ICCs 0.39 and 0.43), and conflict (ICCs 0.24 and 0.26). In turn, recalled parental treatment, particularly affection, made unique contributions to current positive (ICC 0.12) and negative affect (ICC 0.08) over and above individual and familial level characteristics such as offspring demographic characteristics, extraversion and neuroticism, family structure, recalled early family environment, and parents' current status.

Conclusions Results link adults' memories of experiences with their parents in childhood to their current well-being and highlight the importance of considering within-family models for family theory.


Family Studies

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences


Oxford Journals

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



© The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org.



In the article, “Within-Family Variability in Representations of Past Relationships with Parents,” by Adam Davey, Corinna Jenkins Tucker, Karen Fingerman, and Jyoti Savla, which was published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences on pages 125–136 of 64B(1), Dr. Tucker's affiliation is incorrectly listed as being located in Durham, North Carolina. The correct location is Durham, New Hampshire.

The publisher regrets the error.