Sibling Influences

Document Type

Encyclopedia Article

Publication Date



Research on children’s and early adolescents’ time use indicates that siblings are fixtures in each other’s lives. Given their ubiquity, it is surprising that the ways in which brothers and sisters influence each other’s development has been relatively neglected. In comparison, over the past 25 years there has been over 45 times more work on parenting processes and nearly seven times more on peer influences (McHale et al. 2012) than on siblings. An emerging body of work, however, documents that siblings are indeed important and can influence one another in a variety of ways. The goals of this essay are to review the main pathways through which siblings influence each other’s development. Specifically, we highlight two broad avenues through which siblings influence each other: (a) directly – through observation and daily interactions with one another, as well as modeling and differentiation processes; and (b) indirectly – by virtue of their impact on the larger family system, in ...