Older siblings as socializers of younger siblings' empathy


In this study, the ways in which older siblings’personal qualities and sibling relationship experiences were associated with younger siblings’levels of empathy during early adolescence and preadolescence were explored. Participants were 199 sibling dyads (mean years of age = 11 and 8, respectively) who were interviewed using two procedures: (a) in their homes about their family relationships and personal qualities and (b) in a sequence of seven nightly telephone interviews about their daily activities and companions. Multiple regression analyses were conducted separately by younger siblings’gender to examine the relations of older siblings’personal qualities and sibling relationship experiences to younger siblings’ empathy. Analyses revealed that younger sisters’ as compared to younger brothers’ empathy was related differentially to their older siblings’ personal qualities and to the nature of their sibling relationship. Additional analyses to examine younger siblings’ personal qualities and sibling relationship experiences as potential predictors of older siblings’ empathy generally were nonsignificant, indicating that older siblings enhance younger siblings’empathy rather than vice versa.

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Journal of Early Adolescence


Sage Publications

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© 1999 Sage Publications, Inc