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The aim of this study is to examine the sibling relationship from the perspective of both siblings in order to add to the understanding of potentially one of the most important relationship of an individual’s life. In particular, questions were asked about how the relationship is affected in terms of warmth, conflict and rivalry by a number of variables; gender, level of contact and number of siblings in the family. This study also sought to determine if there is a gender divide in the type of support provided between siblings.
A quantitative, self-completion questionnaire was used in order to conduct the survey which was returned by 133 respondents, of which 41 sibling pairs were identified, the responses of whom were compared. Data was analysed using SPSS. Findings were, to a large extent, consistent with previous research. Gender, contact and number of siblings were found to be correlated with the warmth of the relationship and the level of rivalry and conflict although a negative correlation was found between number of siblings and rivalry. Gender was also found to play a role in the amount of support provided between siblings, with sisters being most likely to provide both emotional and practical support. Sisters too appeared to have the most similar perception of their relationship when their answers were compared. This study recommended that in order to gain a greater insight into the sibling relationship further research might be undertaken to investigate if siblings who believe their parents treat them equally have an egalitarian relationship with each other, compared with those who feel one or both parents favour one sibling over the other. Additional research might also include more siblings in late adulthood in order to gain a greater understanding of how the relationship is experienced across the lifespan and, separately, a mixed method approach to the issue of perception of the relationship may provide useful in-depth data.
Wallace, E., ''The Sibling Relationship: Friendship or Rivalry?'' Masters Dissertation, Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology, September 2012.