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Sibling relationships and social support

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Sibling relationships and social support the ways in which siblings support one another throughout the lifecourse
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Deutschmann, Heidi
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English
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viii, 56 leaves : ; 29 cm

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Brothers and sisters -- United States ( lcsh )
Social networks -- United States ( lcsh )
Brothers and sisters ( fast )
Social networks ( fast )
United States ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 54-56).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Heidi Deutschmann.

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University of Florida
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ocm40283126
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Full Text
SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS AND SOCIAL SUPPORT
THE WAYS IN WHICH SIBLINGS SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER
THROUGHOUT THE LIFECOURSE
Heidi Deutschmann
B. A., University of Colorado, 1995
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Sociology
by
1998


1998 by Heidi Deutschmann
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Master of Sociology
degree by
Heidi Deutschmann
has been approved
by
Date


Deutschmann, Heidi (M.A., Sociology)
Sibling Relationships and Social Support The Ways in Which Siblings
Support One Another Throughout the Lifecourse
Thesis directed by Dr. Candan Duran-Aydintug
ABSTRACT
In recent years, research on siblings has increased, however, the area
of sibling support has not yet received much attention. The following study
has sought to develop the research on siblings by offering more specific
information in relation to how siblings support one another throughout the
lifecourse. By employing data collected previously(1988 National Survey of
Families and Households, NSFH), sibling support has been investigated by
comparing social support given by friends versus that of siblings. The
variables that determined this type of support are related to various types of
help, advice, communication, moral support; and demographic proximity.
Additionally, how much social support one gives and receives has been
studied in relation to gender and age.
Although lately siblings have been receiving more attention, they have
essentially been ignored in the past in terms of research leading to theory
building. At present, research on siblings is mostly atheoretical, and a need
exists for further research in this virtually unexamined area of Family
Sociology. Sibling research is no longer restricted to birth order, rivalry, and
Freudian jealousy. The scope of the research has begun to grow and change.
Social support, on the other hand, has begun to secure more attention
in the area of Family Sociology, especially in regards to adult siblings. Social
support is generally defined as the ways in which primary relationships can
benefit the individual. While that is a very general definition, previous
research has defined more specific avenues that relate back to this general
premise. For instance, social support functions can be classified as
instrumental or expressive. Furthermore, social support research with regard
to siblings has produced the term generational solidarity, which refers to
siblings particular shared life experience.
IV


Essentially, this study provides new information by looking at sibling
relationships from a social support perspective. In doing so, the aim was not
only to study new determining variables, but also to obtain solid research
evidence that will be an important piece in a quest for cumulative knowledge.
The hypotheses tested in this study have been mainly supported as the
results have shown sibling and friendship differences as well as gender
differences with regard to the variables tested.
Suggestions for further research have also been discussed.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
V


DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to my parents, Rudy and Jane Deutschmann, for then-
unfaltering encouragement, understanding, and support during a time in my
life when I needed those things, and them, the most.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I wish to thank Candan Duran-Aydintug not only for her faith in me, but also
for her unwavering ability to always see the light at the end of the tunnel, even
when I couldnt.


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION.............................1
2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE.................... 5
Purpose of the Study..................24
3. METHODS.................................27
Characteristics of the General Sample.29
Characteristics of Subsample 1..31
Characteristics of Sub sample 2.36
Measurement.....................38
4. RESULTS.................................40
5. DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION...................48
REFERENCES.......................................54
viii


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
In 1967 Gerald Handel, one of the leading researchers on siblings,
stated, Children growing up as members of the same family, sharing a
common household with their parents, participate in constructing a world that
is both unique to the family and dependent upon the society beyond the family
(Handel, p.108, 1986). Over 30 years later, this statement still rings true.
However, with regard to this constructed world that is unique to every family,
we must ask ourselves, what keeps it together? And, more specifically, what
fosters sibling relationships after they ultimately leave that world they helped
create? These, in fact, are some of the questions I have attempted to explain
in my quest for answers about sibling relationships.
The literature on siblings, past and present, has also tried to discover
the answers to the endless questions that exist with regard to sibling
relationships. In terms of relating to a theoretical framework, sibling
relationships connect most closely to the theory of attachment. Attachment,
and its relevance to sibling relationships, is typically found in the parent child
relationship (Klagsbrun, 1992). For instance, if a child has a secure
1


attachment to one or both parents, they are likely to have a similar attachment
to a sibling. However, if a child is attached to a parent in an insecure manner,
his/her attachment to a sibling will likely be insignificant. Attachment theory
and its relation to siblings is comparable to the concept of equity in sibling
relationships (Handel, 1967). Concepts such as rivalry and competition tend
to evolve when equity among siblings in terms of parental attention, rewards,
and discipline does not balance out fairly (Handel, 1967).
Attachment and equity have received much attention in the area of
sibling relationships within past research. Yet, there are many subjects within
the area of sibling research today. Presently, the research concentrates on
concepts such as generational solidarity and multigenerational legacy, as well
as the ideas that surround the concept of social support. Social support can be
characterized as the interaction between persons encountering actual or
perceived personal problems or difficult life events (Jung, 1987). Social
support aids the individual by providing coping strategies and reassurance.
Social support can be broken down into three elements: affect, affirmation,
and aid. Affect illustrates expressions of love or respect. Affirmation
describes the recognition of the appropriateness of an individuals behaviors
or attitudes. Aid, on the other hand, includes immediate assistance, such as
loaning money or helping the individual with work (Abbey, Abramis, Caplan,
2


1985). Social support has also been defined as the interaction between
persons encountering actual or perceived personal problems, and their friends
or relatives. Furthermore, research on social support has shown that it may
calm the effects of stress by furnishing individuals with information that
illuminates coping strategies (Abbey, Abramis, Caplan, 1985). The concept
of social support has been applied to the understudied area of sibling
relationships in an effort to develop this area of Family Sociology, not only to
better understand it, but to also better understand how siblings help and
support one another throughout their lives.
In order to examine these topics, appropriate data had to be located
and put to use. The National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) was
chosen for this study. It is a national survey administered by Bumpass, Sweet,
and Call, which was conducted during 1987 and 1988. NSFH was created to
look specifically at the motives and repercussions of changes in the American
family and its household composition. It contains interviews with a
probability sample of 13,017 respondents, with a main cross-section sample of
9,643 households. In each household, a primary respondent was interviewed,
as was the spouse or cohabiting partner, if such a person lived there. Survey
questions encompassed a large assortment of topics such as demographic
information, life history information, family process, step parenting, and
3


sibling relationships to name a few.
The purpose of my study was to discover whether there are gender
differences when it comes to material and emotional support among siblings.
Based on the literature, women are considered to be the kin-keepers of the
family, while men tend to show their love and support to a spouse or relative
by giving material types of support (Yanagisko, 1977). Therefore, it is then
hypothesized that women give and receive more emotional support than men
to and from their siblings than men do, and that men will be more likely to
give material support to their siblings than women do. These hypotheses were
tested in two separate subsamples.
Furthermore, sibling relationships were also compared to friendships
to illustrate the similarities and differences in closeness between both types of
relationships, hypothesizing gender differences and whether siblings will be
preferred over friends. In measuring material and emotional support, the same
give and receive indicators were used to compare friends and siblings, as well
as to compare gender differences.
4


CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Today it seems that concepts and variables that make up sibling
relationships are never ending. Is it possible to set limits on the positive and
negative aspects of this relationship? The sociology literature that offers
information and research on siblings is very limited, and offers very few ideas.
However, it is necessary to look at where the literature on siblings originates.
Especially in the discipline of psychology, rivalry, competition, and birth
order gave way for sibling research, as well as giving it the attention and
recognition it deserves. According to Markowitz (1994), past research
suggests that people with siblings have a greater sense of knowledge and
sensitivity about the world in general. Not only do we learn about the world
from our siblings, but we also learn some of the most basic parts of interaction
from them as well. Ihinger-Tallman (1987) theorized that several of the
behaviors, attitudes, and expectations children acquire in the family are
learned from brothers and or sisters. Further, learning how to be a peer is an
excellent example of what siblings have the innate skills to teach, whether
good or bad (Goode, 1994).
5


In the past, for example, sibling research has centered on rivalry,
competition, and birth order. Freud looked at rivalry as a natural part of the
sibling relationship, in childhood and adulthood (Klagsbrun, 1982). However,
does sibling rivalry really last a lifetime? Markowitz (1994) states that, Until
recently, the phenomenon was believed to be so self-evident that no one
bothered to challenge it. But are aggression and envy really the overarching
emotions siblings have for one another? (1994, p. 56). The ways in which
parents interact with each of their children can affect the degree of sibling
rivalry among their children. If one child receives more attention than another
does from a parent, this will adversely affect the sibling relationship, not
necessarily the parent child relationship. Handel (1986) states that equity is
one of the most fundamental issues found in sibling relationships. Children
are perceptive to the ways their parents and their siblings treat them. As they
are attentive to this, they also make comparisons between rewards and
disciplines given to them and their siblings. If in fact parents do illustrate
favoritism, this could cause resentment and/or competition between siblings.
Competition may be a direct result of sibling rivalry, and competition can
certainly last a lifetime. However, are siblings fully aware of why they
compete in the first place? Although social awareness and development of
children is far more advanced than once thought, children do not maintain the
6


ability to comprehend who or what may have turned them against one another.
Most competitive adult siblings arent able to notice the entire picture either
(Dunn, 1993).
In terms of the prevalence and strength of sibling relationships, Goode
(1994) theorizes on the reality of both. Sibling relationships and 80 percent
of Americans have at least one outlast marriages, survive the death of
parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship (Goode, 1994,
p. 45). Knowing this, how does our society regard sibling relationships? How
much importance is placed on cultivating them? Rituals and celebrations that
focus directly on siblings and their importance do not exist. If the sibling bond
is so vital, why is it neglected? While it goes unrecognized, it still manages to
flourish for some siblings; as research illustrates that siblings do in fact
support one another during the lifecourse.
In terms of establishing an individuality beyond the family, or beyond
the relationships found within the family, Handel (1986) suggests that in as
much as siblings are involved with one another, expecting and seeking
loyalty, they are also striving to become distinct individuals. For instance,
they are striving to become individuals that have the ability to limit the claims
and demands that others came to make on them. Siblings are more or less
attempting to find themselves, establish relationships with one another, and
7


interact in a setting that is already problematic, a family setting. What can be
expected, or realized in an already constructed environment of an existing
family in terms of sibling relationships is ultimately up to the individual.
Handel, for instance, conceptualizes that, Children growing up as members
of the same family, sharing a common household with their parents participate
in constructing a world that is both unique to the family and dependent upon
the society beyond the family(Handel,1986, p. 108).
Gender differences may also play a role in terms of how siblings tend
to support, or not support, one another during the course of their lives. Is one
gender more likely to encourage sibling relationships than another? Crispell
(1996) states that some parts of sibling relationships remain a mystery, even
though it is apparent that women display stronger sibling bonds. However,
she adds that it is arduous to conclude how much of this is due to societal
norms that tend to foster women toward maintaining family relationships,
versus how much of this maintenance is due to true familial feeling (1996).
Gender notwithstanding, there are other variables that affect the sibling bond.
Geographic proximity, economic constraints, and time also have a hand in the
sibling bond being stifled later in life. As children, siblings have no choice
but to always be around one another. They do, however, have a choice as to
whether or not they support their siblings during childhood and adolescence.
8


Ethnicity is an area that lacks research with regard to siblings. Few
studies are notable to date, with exception to findings on African Americans
and Italian Americans. Avioli (1989) employs Hayes and Mindels (1973)
understanding that African American siblings maintain a strong solidarity
because of continual interaction. Avioli further uses Johnsons (1982),
research regarding Italian American solidarity. Johnson (1982) found an
impressive amount of sibling solidarity among Italian Americans, in
comparison to white Protestant siblings (Johnson, 1982). In the studies on
ethnicity, solidarity, not social support, has been the focus or the outcome.
Familial solidarity is not universal in degree, in terms of its intensity or
lack there of. However, as mentioned earlier, a relationship found within
family solidarity can be linked to ethnicity. Furthermore, Johnson (1982) also
found that sibling solidarity fluctuates by family composition variables such
as ethnicity. Additionally, there are six criteria imperative to interaction and
solidarity among families: family structure, associational solidarity,
consensual solidarity, affectual solidarity, functional solidarity, and normative
solidarity (Gold, 1989). These concepts are not specifically defined in Golds
work, nonetheless, their titles do imply a sense of the form of solidarity they
describe.
Attachment theory developed by psychologists provides insight for
9


Family sociologists who are studying sibling relationships. Attachment theory,
a primary building block of modem psychology, accentuates the need for
children to possess a close bond with a parent (Klagsbrun, 1992). Attachment,
and its relevance to sibling relationships, is illustrated in a few forms. First, it
is necessary to look at the parent-child relationship and the type of attachment
found within it (Boer & Dunn, 1992). If, for instance, a child is insecurely
attached to a parent, it will be likely that their attachment to a sibling will be
insignificant. On the other hand, when siblings are securely attached to one or
both parents, their attachment to one another will likely be similar. In other
words, if siblings can build a basis of identification and response with one
another, as parents do with children, the sense of attachment will grow
(Klagsbrun, 1992). Sibling attachment also tends to originate when there is
the death of a parent, neglect from a parent, or having to cope with misfortune
early in life.
Klagsbrun (1992) points out that gender brings out different kinds of
attachment for siblings. The distinctions are not found between brothers, or
between brothers and sisters. The variance is located within the sister
relationship. Her findings note that sisters having the tightest bonds of
attachment on nearly every scale of closeness. Further, attachment to a sister
does not end in childhood or adolescence. Along the same line, Klagsbrun
10


(1992) further states that research has found that elderly men and women
manage far better when they have a sister they can rely on for emotional as
well as material support, versus those who do not have a sister in their family.
The ways in which siblings interact with one another in childhood and
adolescence could very well shape their patterns for intimacy later in life.
Therefore, before one is able to understand the relationship between siblings,
the environment in which siblings grew up must also be understood.
Brofenbrenner (1979) conceptualized a set of four social structures imperative
to comprehending the ways in which ones surroundings will impact and
shape development (Brofenbrenner, 1979, cited in Ihinger-Tallman, 1987).
The first structure, the microsystem, is the true setting where the child
encounters reality. The second, the mesosystem, is a relationship or a tie
between structures. The third, the exosystem, encapsulates experiences which
have an impression on a childs development, however, the child does not
hold an immediate role in these experiences. The fourth structure, the
macrosystem, is the vast social structure where the other three are located.
For instance, the macrosystem could be characterized as the larger social
structure or culture predominant in any society. (Ihinger-Tallman, 1987).
Building upon Brofenbrenners conceptualization, attachment may
also play a part in how siblings will relate to one another later in life.
11


Although it is unlikely that siblings will have the opportunity to continuously
share the same bedroom or live under the same room in their adult lives, it is
these very experiences that helped to form their attachment to one another.
These memories enable siblings to foster their attachment feelings and sustain
them in their adult lives (Klagsbrun, 1992).
Social Support
According to Van Aken & Asendorpf (1997) the outcome of social
support and its function for the individual is maintained by a personal network
of relationships. These especially close relationships, whether they are
relationships between mother, father, sibling, or peer, tend to provide social
support for those involved in them. The level of social support these
particular relationships afford the individual depends upon what kind of
relationship the members have. In looking specifically at siblings, most
research illustrates that many siblings sustain fairly strong ties and interchange
a good amount of aid and services throughout the lifecourse (Horowitz, 1993).
In considering this interchange and the other relationships siblings have with
their parents, or peer groups, sibling social support relationships may be
stronger in the absence of parental or peer relationships. According to
Horowitz (1993), kinship norms that denote affection, allegiance,
12


collaboration, and aid may be exercised when other close relations are
lacking. Additionally, the specialized supportive functions that siblings
furnish to one another mirror the unique characteristics of the sibling
relationship. (Avioli, 1989). Growing up together, siblings understand each
other in a very particular way, which also refer to the ways they are capable of
supporting one another.
According to Jung (1987), another way to characterize social support
is to see it as the interaction between persons encountering actual or perceived
personal problems, or difficult life events, and the interaction of their friends
and relatives. He further adds that the providers of the social support
originate of variety of benefits that help the distressed person to cope with
what is happening in their life (1987). His focus has thus become the provider
of the social support, rather than the recipient, as studies in the past have
concentrated mainly on the recipient.
Moreover, Abbey, Abramis, and Caplan (1985) employed Kahn and
Antonuccis (1980) definition of social support for their study on social
support and social conflict. This 1980 description explains that social support
is composed of three elements: affect, affirmation, and aid. Affect illustrates
expressions love or respect. Affirmation describes the recognition of the
suitableness of individuals behaviors or attitudes. Aid, on the other hand,
13


includes immediate assistance, such as loaning others money or helping them
with their work.
Abbey, Abramis, and Caplan (1985) noted that additionally, social
support may calm the effects of stress on affect and well-being by furnishing
individuals with information that illuminates coping strategies. In providing
these reassurances, this particular support seems to reduce the feeling of
intimidation. The effort of reassurance creates a buffering effect for the
recipient of the social support, which relates back to the concept of
affirmation (Abbey, Abramis, and Caplan, 1985).
According to Avioli (1989), sociodemographic and family structure
variables arbitrate the actual provision of social support. Examples of these
social support mediators are the following: geographic proximity, social
network structure, health and functional status, developmental stage, gender
composition, socioeconomic status and ethnicity. The impact of each of these
mediators is related to the social support function that they help describe
and/or discern.
Specifically, social support functions can be classified in two ways,
instrumental or expressive. Instrumental support includes economic help, or
help with transportation and cooking. On the other hand, expressive support
deals with affectual, empathetic, or social psychological concerns. In
14


contrast to instrumental supports, expressive supports are not as dependent on
physical proximity (Avioli, 1989, p. 46). These types of social support are
valid when considering sibling support because they come into play at
virtually any stage of life in the relationship, other than preadolescence.
Reciprocity, another aspect of social support, has three separate types.
Generalized reciprocity, which refers to the altruistic extreme in which
individuals give aid without the conscious expectation of repayment. They
represent the center of the individuals social integration (Avioli, 1989, p.
50). Negative reciprocity, on the other hand, is extremely exploitive to a
point where the individual is only interested in taking from another (Avioli,
1989). Finally, balanced reciprocity constitutes direct and equitable
exchanges and characterizes the relationships in the secondary ring of social
integration (Sahlins, 1965). Generally, sibling relationships tend to interact
with balanced reciprocity. Avioli (1989) asserts that in light of the fact that
siblings typically anticipate an equitable exchange, neglecting to reciprocate
will probably disrupt the relationship.
Social support and the ways in which it is displayed can be affected by
many factors. Variables that relate to sociodemographics and family structure
are thought to change the degree to which social support is given. For
instance, geographic proximity can certainly affect support, or lack there of, in
15


any relationship, including a sibling relationship. Although expressive
supports theoretically can be exchanged at a distance, help requiring physical
presence and even some affectional support does appear to be negatively
related to geographical distance (Avioli,1989, p. 53). An individuals, age,
socioeconomic status, or stage in life, may also affect the way in which social
support is presented. The age variable relates back to an inherent change in
the relationship as time goes on, as the individual changes. Whereas high
socioeconomic status allows for mobility to travel and the freedom to help a
sibling financially, the other end of the spectrum would not allow for this. A
sibling without financial stability may not have means to travel, and without
periodic visitation, the support may not be fostered. Avioli (1989) determines
that in those situations when similarity and value consensus are found with the
intentional and/or reciprocal interchange of supports, this contact is likely to
conclude with a siblings improved well-being.
In an effort to illustrate the unique way siblings can offer to support
one another, research compared friendship social support with sibling social
support. Although a sibling relationship is ascribed and not achieved, an
element of an achieved relationship can also exist. Siblings have to make an
effort to help or support one another, that is, their support is not always an
automatic reaction. Their help may come from loyalty to one another or it
16


may be a form of bonding from childhood. The process of sibling bonding is
also an important factor in the quest to better understand sibling relationships
and their benefits. Ross and Milgram (1982) found that shared experiences in
childhood often lead to a reported closeness among siblings, which could also
foster bonding.
According to Ihinger-Tallman (1987), bonding is a process and is also
susceptible to change. In addition, Turner (1970) also writes that bonding will
offer a solid emotional connection that keeps people together, while causing
them to interact. It is these interactions that create a bond. Turner (1970) also
states that new bonds may emanate and old bonds will deepen when family
members are very encompassed with one another during a period of time.
Avioli (1989) takes the bonding process a step further and claims that siblings
provide psychological support due to the emotional bonds between them, not
because of their sense of certain obligation. The limitation in terms of the
emotional processes involved with sibling relationships is that there is a lack
of sociological research in this area. Again, most of the research is found in
the area of psychology.
Factors that bring out social support among siblings are, for example,
the death of a parent or another family member, illness, stress, divorce, or
economic difficulty. When a sibling has cause to look to his/her sibling for
17


advice or help, it is not unlike invoking the help of a friend. Yet, where do the
differences between siblings and friends lie? Avioli (1989) states that the
connection to a sibling is ascribed whereas the tie that exists between friends
is achieved. Is it possible to define friends and siblings independent of one
another? They are not interchangeable, and yet, they are very similar. Do
siblings display more loyalty than friends in regards to their relationships, or
vice versa? Connidis (1989), further argues that only the process of mutual
confiding is exclusively related to thinking of a sibling as a close friend.
Therefore, if one chooses to confide in another person, not in a family
member, this would be the definition of a friend. When siblings do this for
one another, confide, they also become a friend. As friends offer social
support, siblings also have this ability, however, siblings offer social support
with a unique dynamic in that they have the capacity to understand each other
in the context of coming from the same household.
Siblings have a particular perspective on knowing how to support one
other effectively, as they have grown up together, Mid have known each other
in certain ways. Additionally, sibling relationships can be classified as
primary relationships. According to Avioli (1989), primary relationships are
those, which are close, affectionate, and committed, and are further
characterized by frequent interaction. Weiss (1974) developed the six
18


functions that primary relationships can potentially provide: (1) provide a
sense of attachment or intimacy, (2) offer the opportunity for nurturant
behavior, (4) give reassurance of worth, (5) provide a sense of reliable
alliance, and (6) provide guidance. Further, Weiss asserts that these supports
enhance an individuals morale and sense of well being (Weiss, 1974, cited in
Avioli, 1989, p. 46).
Another form of social support functions are supportive transactions
(Kahn, 1979). Kahn indicates that there are three types of supportive
transactions: expression of positive affect of one person toward another;
affirmation or endorsement of another persons behaviors, perceptions, or
expressed views; and the giving of symbolic or material aid to another.
Succinctly put, Kahns model suggests that primary relationships potentially
afford aid, affirmation, and/or affect (Kahn 1979, cited in Avioli, p. 46,
1989). In effect, supportive transactions relate directly to siblings in that
siblingship is a primary relationship, one that can also be an example of
different types of supportive transactions.
Also notable in current research findings is the importance of the
sibling lifecycle. The lifecycle is currently being studied in terms of middle to
late life sibling relationships, more specifically, the baby boom generation.
Seltzer (1989) theorizes that over time, siblings are inclined to develop more
19


accepting and approving feelings for one another. They also appear to be
more psychologically encompassed with each other and less antagonistic and
jealous. According to Gold (no date given), the sibling relationship is
strengthened late in life by shared memories and the relationships past
existence rather than frequent interactions. Golds theory is somewhat
contradictory to the concept of reciprocity, however, his framework and the
concept of reciprocity have been adopted in the literature.
Along the same path of the sibling lifecycle, are the concepts of
generational solidarity, multigenerational legacy, as well as the
multidimensional nature of sibling relationships. These concepts are all very
similar, and yet they each have very subtle differences. The multigenerational
theory focuses on a three-tiered model by Bedford (1989) that looks at aging-
related events, intrapsychic processes, and sources of values. According to
Bedford (1989), the contradicting fact that, whereas the sibling relationship is
believed to improve with age, it does not seem to transform overtly.
Therefore, this may create the need in researchers to look beyond the surface
of sibling relationships, if understanding the true nature of the relationship is
going to begin.
Generational solidarity, on the other hand, proposes that being a part
of the same generation produces a particular capacity for empathy and a
20


mutual awareness of the significance of shared experiences (Avioli, 1989).
These directly relate to siblings in that they have many similarities such as
common family values, style of interaction, perception of reality and the
outside world. Siblings possess the ability to validate one anothers
perceptions of themselves and the world that surrounds them (Ross and
Milgram, 1982). Further, this better equips siblings to provide or offer social
support to one another. Having a common early life and adolescent
experience, when personal development is at its most crucial stages, the
interactions between siblings illustrate what each sibling has the ability to give
and communicate. Therefore, later life interactions may tend to be similar in
that siblings understand from past experience what they are prepared and able
to handle in certain instances.
Research has suggested that the composition of sibling relationships
later in life may differ with regard to socioeconomic status (Avioli, 1989). In
terms of predictors, socio-economic status, especially comparisons between
working class and middle class individuals offer interesting findings. For
instance, the mobility of the middle class allows for greater likelihood of
interaction, whereas the working class possesses limited resources, which
would restrict travel. Further, education may also constitute another
difference in that siblings who receive higher education may be farther away
21


from one another because of job opportunities. Types of support given by
each class is inconclusive due to conflicting research findings, however,
working class siblings have been linked to instrumental support functions,
whereas middle class siblings are linked to individualized expressive
functions (Avioli, 1989).
Self-esteem has also become an important variable in current research
on siblings. Similar to other close relationships in a persons life, siblings
have the power to affect one others self-esteem. Whether it is a positive or
negative influence on self-esteem, depends on the relationship. However,
Aviolis (1989) research illustrates that in those cases where similarity and
value consensus exist along with a voluntary and mutual interchange of
support, contact between siblings will likely result in the siblings heightened
well-being. Realistically, sibling interaction is not always positive, and the
outcome can certainly be negative. However, for the purposes of research on
self-esteem, the literature tends to focus only on the positive effects of this
variable.
Sandler (cited in van Aken and Asendorph, 1997) has depicted three
processes through which social support can influence adjustment, specifically,
protecting ones self-esteem. Social support is able to guard self-esteem for
children who are experiencing stress via three mechanisms: one, preventing
22


the transpiration of stressful incidents; two, to moderate the contrary effects
of stress on self-esteem; three, to directly expand self-esteem. Finally, van
Aken and Asendorph (1997) claim that high self-esteem may increase the
probability of obtaining support when one requires it and the recognition of
support when the support is actually provided. Therefore, theoretical
frameworks can surely apply to siblings when and if they are providing the
social support, they are also contributing to another siblings self-esteem. If
sibling relationships are an important factor in ones life, the likelihood that
they would be influenced by social support, and in turn, self-esteem, is quite
high. For instance, Seltzer (1989) states in her summary of the book Growing
Old by Cumming and Henry (1961) that they found sibling relationships to be
an immediate second to parent-child relationships in importance. However, in
terms of looking at the negative side of social support, Jung (1987) has
pointed out that social support from others may threaten ones self-esteem in
that the social support could cause resentment.
Personal autonomy also has an affect on sibling relationships.
Independence has a certain social value, which can cause a possible dilemma
when deciding between complying with the norm of self-sufficiency and the
realistic need of asking for help (Avioli, 1989). Society teaches individuals to
go at life without the support of family after a certain age, after which the
23


individual gains independence, and asking for assistance may breach a level of
this social contract. In effect, social support does not come easily, from either
the giving or receiving end. Social support can be crucial, but the possible
price tag that may be attached to it cannot be overlooked. Additionally, as
mentioned earlier, social support has the ability of coming across as negative.
For instance, Avioli (1989) states that social support or help may be a
reminder of incompetence, weakness, or even failure, especially among
adults. Jung (1987) further adds that recipients of social support may be
ashamed to receive help because it may lead to an admission of helplessness
on their part.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to examine whether there are gender
differences when it comes to material and emotional support among siblings.
For both kinds of support, there are several measures. First, in relation to
material support, there are three indicators: give/receive help with
transportation, give/receive help with home or car repairs, give/receive help
with housework. For emotional support, there are also three indicators:
give/receive advice and/or moral support, who would you call if you were
depressed or confused, as well as one specific question asked to respondents,
24


who had at least one marital separation, regarding the emotional support they
received during separation. Based on the literature, women are considered to
be the kin-keepers of the family (Yanagisako, 1977), while men tend to give
support in more instrumental or material ways (Cancian, 1987). Therefore, it
is hypothesized that ones sex will be related to ones giving and receiving
material and emotional support from siblings. The gender difference
hypotheses are as follows: 1. Women will give more material support to their
siblings than they give to their friends. 2. Women will give more emotional
support to their siblings than they give to their friends. 3. Women will
receive more material support from their siblings than they receive from their
friends. 4. Women will receive more emotional support from their siblings
than they receive from their friends. 5. Men will give more material support
to their friends than they give to their siblings. 6. Men will give more
emotional support to their friends than they give to their siblings. 7. Men will
receive more material support from their friends than from their siblings. 8.
Men will receive more emotional support from their friends than they receive
from their siblings. The limitation of the cases employed in NSFH is that it is
unknown whether respondents have one or more sibling, if they have
brother/and or sister combinations, or what the birth order is among them.
Distance was also tested in that a subsample was created to include
25


respondents with at least one sibling, as well as controlling for having a
sibling living within one and three hundred miles from the respondent were
tested. The rationale for creating this subsample was that if respondents did
not have a sibling within driving distance, it was likely that instrumental
social support could not be given or taken.
Race and ethnicity were also investigated as it is illustrated in the
literature that race and ethnicity may cause the degree of solidarity to differ
among siblings. It is therefore hypothesized that ones race will be related to
ones giving and receiving material and emotional support from siblings.
These tests were again compared to friend variables in an attempt to uncover
differences.
Finally, age was also examined. The age variable was recoded into
three categories: first, ages 17 through 35; second, ages 36 through 50; and
third, ages 51 and over. The intention was to find out whether age and
giving and receiving support to and from siblings were related. The rationale
for the age groupings was to look specifically at generational solidarity among
siblings, as discussed in the literature.
26


CHAPTER 3
METHODS
The data employed for this project are taken from a national survey;
National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), administered by
Bumpass, Sweet, and Call, in 1987 through 1988. NSFH was created to look
specifically at the motives and repercussions of changes in the American
family and household composition. It contains interviews with a probability
sample of 13,017 respondents, with a main cross-section sample of 9,643
households, as well as a weighted sampling of blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexican
Americans, single-parent families and families with stepchildren, and
cohabiting or recently married couples. NSFH conducted personal interviews,
while also providing supplemental self-administered questionnaires. In each
household, a primary respondent (Rl) was interviewed, as was the spouse or
cohabiting partner of the primary respondent, if such a person lived there.
Survey questions encompassed a large assortment of topics such as
demographic information, life histoiy information, family process, step
parenting and sibling relationships to name a few. The response rate was
73.5% in the main sample, and 76.8% in the oversample.
27


NSFH was modeled to provide a comprehensive data reserve on the
American family and its household structure. The survey furnishes a cross-
sectional glance at American family life. There were five stages of selection
in the sample design. Stage 1 included a selection from 100 U.S. counties or
county groups with probability-proportional-to-size-sampling, which were
referred to as Primary Sampling Units, or PSUs. 1985 population projections
gave the basis for size. Stage 2 selected subdistricts from the PSUs chosen in
Stage 1. The selection of subdistricts or PSUs depended on their population.
The final number of subdistricts was 1700, constructing an average of 17 per
PSU. These subdistricts were then referred to as Secondary Sampling Units,
or SSUs. In stage 3, one area was selected from each SSU. An area
consisted of 45 or more households. In stage 4, a lister was sent to each of
the 1,700 areas to obtain all addresses within the listing area boundaries.
From this, approximately 20 addresses in each area listing were chosen for
inclusion in the sample. One half of the households selected in stage 4 were
randomly assigned to be in the main sample, and the other half was designated
for the oversample. Finally, in stage 5, interviewers screened each of these
potential households, compiled a list of all household members, and
established one primary respondent.
28


Characteristics of the General Sample
In the National Survey of Families and Households, the data are
described by responses given from R1 (the primary respondent), and R2
(spouse or cohabiting partner), if R2 was living with Rl, or available to be
interviewed.
The mean age found for all primary respondents was 42.84, the
youngest being 16 and the oldest being 95. All secondary respondents had a
mean age of 41.68, the youngest being 16, and the oldest being 91.
Race and ethnicity was separated out into categories for both primary
and secondary respondents. Out of all the Rls, 18.4 percent were Black, 72.5
are White (not Hispanic), 4.8 are Mexican/Chicano, 1.5 percent are Puerto
Rican, .3 percent are Cuban, 1.1 percent are Other Hispanic, .4 percent are
American Indian, and 1.0 percent are Asian.
When it comes to marital status, 52.9 percent of all Rls were married,
4.9 percent were separated due to marital problems, 13.3 percent were
divorced, 10.4 percent were widowed, and 18.5 percent were never married..
However, past marital status of both the primary and secondary respondents
was asked. The number of times the primary respondent had been married is
as follows: 18.5 percent were never married, 62.2 percent had been married
29


only once, 15.7 percent had been married twice, 2.9 percent had been married
three times, .5 percent had been married four times, and 1 percent had been
married five times.
In terms of education, the Highest Grade R1 had Completed in
School variable was selected, with valid percents given as follows: 1.4
percent did not complete first grade, .6 percent completed only first grade, 1.0
percent completed only second grade, 2.2 percent completed only third grade,
2.7 percent completed only fourth grade, 2.8 percent completed only fifth
grade, 7.1 percent completed only sixth grade, 7.4 percent completed only
seventh grade, 17.3 percent completed only eighth grade, 13.7 percent
completed only ninth grade, 19.6 completed only tenth grade, 24.1 completed
only eleventh grade.
In looking at certain family related variables, the primary respondents
answered as follows: Number of Children Bom/Fathered the mean was
1.99; Number of Children Respondent Would Like to Have Ideally the
mean was 2.83; and Number of Times Respondent Has Been Married the
mean was 1.05. Further, when the primary respondent was asked, Did you
have more children than intended, 16.7 percent answered yes, while 83.3
percent answered no. Finally, when the primary respondent was asked
whether or not their spouse had undergone surgery to have no more
30


children, 23.0 percent answered yes, and 77.0 percent answered no.
Other family related variables of interest are: Any of Children
Difficult to Raise, 15.6 percent answered yes, while 84.4 percent answered
no; Any of Children Easy to Raise, 61.6 percent answered yes, while 38.4
answered no.
In terms of economics or finances, respondents were asked, for
instance, whether or not they had ever purchased a home; 61.5 answered yes,
while 38.5 answered no. Total earnings per household was also gathered; the
mean for the primary respondents total earnings was $11,581.53, the mean for
the primary respondents spouse total earnings was $19,447.38, and the mean
for total household earnings was $25,337.35. Further, 62.9 percent of the
respondents were currently working for pay when interviewed, while 37.1
percent were not. Secondary respondents were also asked whether or not they
had worked for pay the preceding week; 67.0 percent answered yes, while
33.0 percent answered no.
Characteristics of Subsample 1
The subsample, which contains 11,006 cases, is defined as those
respondents who have at least one full sibling. First, the general
31


demographics of the subsample are as follows: the mean age of the
respondents (Rl) is 42.78; 40.2 percent of the respondents are male, while
59.8 percent of the respondents are female; 53.3 percent of the respondents are
married, 4.9 percent are separated due to marital problems, 13.2 percent are
divorced, 10.3 percent are widowed, and 18.3 percent have never been
married.
In terms of the Race and Ethnicity in the subsample, 17.9 percent of
the respondents are black, 72.7 percent are white (not Hispanic), 5.1 percent
are Mexican/Chicano/Mexican American, 1.5 percent are Puerto Rican, 1.0
percent are Hispanic, and 1.0 percent are Asian.
The subsample further illustrated that the average number of children
bom/fathered to the respondents is 2.01. Almost 16 percent of the respondents
said at least one of their children were difficult to raise, while 84.6 percent of
the respondents said none of their children were difficult to raise. Further,
61.8 percent of the respondents in the subsample said at least one of their
children were easy to raise, as 38.2 percent said none of their children were
easy to raise.
With regard to economics, the total household earnings found in the
subsample are $25,344.64, with a maximum of $975,000.00. Sixty-three
percent of the respondents in the subsample are currently working for pay,
32


while 37.0 percent are not. Additionally, 61.9 percent of the respondents had
purchased a home, while 38.1 percent had not.
In terms of emotional support or reliance on others, 33.2 percent of
respondents said they would call friends or coworkers in an emergency in the
middle of the night, 21.6 percent said they would call their parents, 16.4
percent said they would call their siblings, and 18.0 percent said they would
call their sons or daughters. Further, 34.9 percent of respondents said they
would ask their friends or coworkers for advice if they were depressed or
confused, 17.9 said they would ask their siblings, 17.7 said they would ask
their parents, and 13.2 percent said they would ask their sons or daughters.
With respect to giving or receiving help from siblings, the following
frequencies were obtained: 10.4 percent of respondents reported that they did
in fact give their brothers and/or sisters help with transportation, while 89.6
percent did not give this kind of help. Six point two percent of respondents
gave their brothers and/or sisters help with home or car repairs, while 93.8
percent did not. Similarly, 6.9 percent gave their brothers and/or sisters help
with housework, while 93.1 did not. Twenty-six percent of respondents gave
their brothers and/or sisters advice and or moral support, while 74.0 percent
did not.
The receive help variables are quite similar to the give help
33


variables in terms of their frequency distribution with respect to siblings.
Seven percent of respondents said they received transportation from their
brothers and/or sisters, while 93.0 percent did not. 4.3 percent of respondents
said they received help with home or car repairs from their brothers and/or
sisters, while 95.7 percent did not. The received help with housework
variable also resembles the received help with home or car repairs. Four point
eight percent of respondents said they did in fact receive help with housework
from their brothers and/or sisters, while 95.2 percent did not. 19.3 percent of
respondents said they received advice and/or moral support from their
brothers and/or sisters, while 80.7 did not.
With reference to distance, or physical proximity between siblings, the
following variables are pertinent. Seventy percent of respondents do not have
a brother or sister living within 2 miles of them, however, 16.6 percent have
one sibling living within that distance, and 7.3 percent have 2 siblings living
within that distance. Further, 56.8 percent of respondents do not have a
brother or sister living within 2-25 miles of them, yet 20.7 have one sibling
living within this distance, and 10.4 have 2 siblings living within this distance.
Sixty-one point one percent of respondents do not have a brother or sister
living between 25-300 miles from them, while 20.5 percent have at least one
sibling living within that distance, and 9.0 percent have 2 siblings living
34


within that distance. Finally, 53.1 percent of respondents do not have a
sibling living over 300 miles from them, while 21.9 percent have at least one
sibling living outside that distance, and 10.6 percent have 2 siblings living
outside that distance.
In terms of the frequency of visits with full siblings, respondents of the
subsample answered as follows: 24.7 percent saw their siblings several times a
week; 13.9 percent about once a week; 17.4 percent 1-3 times per month; 23.9
percent several times a year; 12.3 percent about once a year; and 7.7 percent
do not see their siblings at all. The frequency distribution for the variable that
measured respondents speaking to their siblings was quite similar to that of
their patterns of visitation; 24.8 percent of respondents speak to their siblings
several times a week, 16.7 percent speak to their siblings about once a week,
15.7 percent speak to their siblings 1-3 times a month, 18.2 percent said
several times a year, 16.2 percent said about once a year, and 8.3 percent said
they do not speak to their siblings at all.
Relative to frequency of visits and communication is whether or not
respondents tend to get along with their siblings. Ninety-one point seven
percent of respondents said that they get along with all of their siblings, while
only 8.3 percent said they do not.
35


Characteristics of Sub sample 2
The second subsample, which contains 10,501 cases, is defined as
those who have at least one full sibling, while also controlling for distance.
Respondents included in this subsample must have at least one sibling living
between one and three hundred miles from them.
The descriptives offered on this subsample relate to the give and
receive variables previously illustrated. Additionally, siblings and friends
were tested to characterize their differences. In reference to giving help with
transportation to a friend or neighbor, 35.8 percent of respondents stated they
did give help with this, while 64.2 percent stated they did not. The same
variable was tested for siblings, 10.8 percent of respondents in this sample
answered that they did give help with transportation to their siblings, while
89.2 did not. In terms of giving help with home or car repairs to a friend or
neighbor, 18.1 percent of respondents gave this kind of help, while 81.9
percent did not. Six point four percent of respondents stated they give help
with home or car repairs to their siblings, while 93.6 stated they did not. With
regard to giving advice or moral support to a friend or neighbor, 50.3 percent
responded that they gave this type of support, 49.7 did not. Twenty seven
percent of respondents stated they gave advice or moral support to then-
siblings, while 73.0 percent did not.
36


In reference to receiving transportation from a friend or neighbor, 22.6
percent of respondents answered that they did receive help with
transportation, while 77.4 did not. Seven point three percent of respondents
stated they received help with transportation from siblings, and 92.7 percent
did not receive this type of help. Furthermore, with regard to receiving advice
or moral support from a friend or neighbor, 39.5 percent of respondents
received this type of help, while 60.5 did not. Twenty percent of respondents
in this sample received advice or moral support from siblings, 80 percent did
not receive this type of support.
Other emotional support variables were also tested. For instance,
respondents were asked whom they would call in an emergency in the middle
of the night. Respondents included in this sample stated: 3.6 percent
answered no one, 32.9 percent stated they would call a friend or neighbor,
22.2 percent said they would call their parents, 17.1 percent said they would
call a sibling. Respondents were also asked whom they would ask for advice
if they were depressed or confused. Ten point three percent stated they would
ask no one for advice, 34.9 percent would ask a friend or neighbor, 18.2
percent said they would ask their parents, and 18.5 percent stated they would
ask a sibling for advice.
In addition, one other emotional support question was tested that
37


related only to sibling support. The question regarding relying on siblings for
emotional support during separation was answered on a sliding scale. Thirty
five point six percent stated they did not rely on their siblings at all while 20.2
percent stated they relied on their siblings a great deal.
Measurement
In analyzing data, demographic variables sex and race were used.
NSFH measures the variable race with 9 different categories: Black,
White/Not Hispanic, Mexican/Chicano/Mexican American, Puerto Rican,
Cuban, Other Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, and Other. For this study,
given the very low percentages in categories other than White/Not Hispanic,
Black, and Hispanic, only these three were used.
Support variables were divided in NSFH into give and receive
categories. In each, the four questions asked about giving/receiving
transportation, giving/receiving help home/car repairs, giving/receiving help
with housework, and giving/receiving advice and/or moral support. The
information in these questions was obtained both regarding siblings and
friends. Regarding the frequencies for emotional support, for statistical
38


comparisons, only frequencies in the categories providing for a great deal
were used (a great deal rather than often or not at all).
For some statistical analyses the variable age which has been
originally measured continuously, was recoded as an ordinal variable into
three categories: one = ages 17 through 35, two = ages 36 through 50, and
three = ages 51 and older.
39


CHAPTER 4
RESULTS
The task of searching for differences or relationships between siblings
and friends, as well as between men and women (with regard to siblings), has
uncovered certain dualities and connections that will aid in the knowledge for
a better understanding of sibling relationships. The categories used to
illustrate the affiliations within sibling relationships in this study are: 1. Men
and Women, 2. Siblings and Friends. Various give/receive as well as
emotional support variables were selected in order to compare the differences
within the previously listed categories.
In comparing men and women with regard to giving siblings help with
home or car repairs, men statistically differed from women with a z score of
2.92 (z=2.92, p<0.05), that is, men, more than women gave help to their
siblings with home or car repairs. However, in terms of giving transportation
to brothers and/or sisters, a difference between men and women did not exist.
Again, using the variable relating to giving brothers and/or sisters help with
housework, no difference was found, as the result of the z test was .910.
However, a significant difference was found pertaining to giving advice or
40


moral support to brothers and/or sisters. Females tended to give significantly
more advice or moral support to their siblings than men did (z=4.60, p<0.05).
In contrast to the give variables, are of course, the receive variables.
First, a difference was not found with respect to receiving help with home or
car repairs from brothers and/or sisters. Second, in terms of receiving help
with transportation from brothers and/or sisters, again a difference between
men and women was not significant. Third, the variable pertaining to
receiving help with housework from brothers and/or sisters, the z result of
.362 (z=.362, p>0.05) does not show a statistically significant difference
among men and women. Yet, in terms of receiving advice, as with giving
advice, a difference was found. Females are inclined to receive significantly
more advice or moral support from brothers and/or sisters (z=5.08, p<0.05).
In addition to the give/receive variables, the variable concerning
whether or not the respondent gets along with their brothers and/or siblings
was tested. A difference between men and women was found, and although it
is only a small difference, it is relevant.
In looking at the distance sample, the same give and receive variables
were tested to compare gender differences. A difference of proportions test
was run on all give and receive variables that relate to siblings. The first
41


variable that indicated a gender difference was receiving advice or moral
support from siblings. Females tended to receive more advice or moral
support from siblings (z=5.78, p<0.05). The second variable that indicated a
significant difference was giving advice or moral support to siblings. Again
females tended to give more support in this instance (z=5.11, p<0.05). The
last variable that verified a gender difference was giving help with home or
car repairs to siblings. Men significantly differed from women giving more
help in this area (z=2.85, p<0.05). The other give and receive variables
did not produce a significant gender difference.
Based on these results, the hypotheses were supported in certain
instances. In terms of gender differences, the only differences were found in
giving and receiving emotional support, where females tended to give and
receive more. The hypothesis stating males would tend to give more material
or instrumental support was also supported in that men tended to give more
help with home or car repairs according to all difference of proportions tests.
In terms of emotional support, a variable asking the respondent whom
they would call in the middle of the night was tested. The results of the
difference of proportions test indicated that men and women did not
significantly differ from one another when it comes to whom they would call
for an emergency in the middle of the night. Both men and women, however,
42


tended to call friends significantly more often than siblings, (men z=8.46,
p<0.05, women z=9.77, p<0.05). However, when the sample of those
respondents with at least one sibling was tested, the results of the difference of
proportions test was not as meaningful with respect to whom the respondent
was calling in the emergency. For instance, the result for friends was 1.43
(z=1.43, p<0.05), while the result for siblings was 1.16 (z=1.16, p<0.05),
illustrating that on the whole, the differences between friends and siblings in
relations to that type of emotional support was not as significant.
Respondents were also asked whom they would ask for advice if they
were depressed or confused. Both male and female respondents stated they
would go to a friend, more often than they would call on a sibling (men
z=9.34, p<0.05, women z=10.73, p<0.05). To further illustrate this variable
the difference of proportions test was conducted without the male/female
separation to look at the difference between friends and siblings among all
respondents with at least one sibling. Respondents tended to call friends
rather than siblings for advice if they are depressed or confused with a z result
of 1.25 (z=1.25, p>0.05). The results of the test for siblings did not provide a
significant difference (z=0.149, p>0.05).
In terms of reliance of emotional support during separation, a
43


meaningful result was found in the difference of proportions test. Women
tended to rely on friends more than siblings with a z result of 3.03 (z=3.03,
p<0.05). Whereas males relied on siblings as much as they relied on friends
(z=0.82, p>0.05).
The hypotheses regarding friends were and were not supported in
reference to gender differences. Males and females tended to rely on friends
more than on siblings in all cases of emotional and physical support.
Essentially, the male hypotheses were supported, while the female hypotheses
were not. The result referring to emotional support during separation was
opposite of the hypothesis in that females tended to rely more on friends,
while males relied on siblings as much as they relied on friends.
The differences between siblings and friends, males and females, as
well as differences within ethnic groups were described by performing chi-
squares on selected variables. In the first case, respondents gender was
compared to the give and receive support variables pertaining to friends. A
difference was found with regard to gender and giving help/transportation to a
friend (x2=9.375, df=l). A difference was also found with respect to gender
and giving advice/moral support to a coworker in terms of gender (x2=54.30,
df=l). No difference was found with receiving transportation from a friend.
44


However, the difference regarding receiving advice/moral support from a
friend was statistically significant (x2=93.79, df=l). The same variables
were tested again with race as the dependent or column variable. In terms of
giving help with transportation to a friend, the difference with respect to race
was also statistically significant (x2=71.98, d£=2). The results in reference to
race and giving advice or moral support was also significant (x2=l 13.34,
df=2). Yet, in terms of receiving help with transportation, no difference was
found (x2=3.28, df==2). Additionally, a difference was found with respect to
receiving advice or moral support from a friend, dependent on race
(X2=106.67, df=2).
As aforementioned, siblings were also tested as an independent
variable, again using gender and race as dependent variables. No difference
was found with respect to gender and giving help with transportation among
siblings (x2= 201, df=l). However, with respect to giving advice or moral
support, there was in fact a difference (x2=93.03, df=T). In regard to
receiving help with transportation, no difference was located (x2=l 1.05,
df=l). Once again, a difference was found with receiving advice or moral
support from siblings in terms of gender (x2=173.88, df=l).
No significant difference was found with siblings receiving advice or
45


moral support with regard to race (x2=l 1.14, df=2). The same was true for
siblings giving help with transportation in reference to race (/2=5.24, df=2).
However, with regard to siblings giving advice or moral support, a difference
was found in terms of race (x2=27.29, df=2). A similar difference was found
in reference to receiving help with transportation from siblings (x2=25.83,
df=2).
The results with regard to gender differences relating to siblings and
friends were supported with the difference of proportions tests as well as with
the bivariate tests. The outcome was most significant when looking at giving
and receiving advice and moral support. In both instances, controlling for
race and gender, the results were significant, as predicted in the hypothesis.
The respondents age was also significantly related to giving help to
siblings and receiving help from siblings. Specifically, there was a difference
in giving help with transportation to brothers and sisters with respect to age
(x2=459.44, df=2). There was also a difference in giving help with home or
car repairs with respect to age (%2=259.20, df=2). A difference was also
found in giving help with housework in regard to age (x2=232.35, df=2).
Again, in terms of the give variables, a difference was found in giving advice
or moral support to siblings in reference to age (x2=551.84, df=2).
46


The receive variables were similar in terms of their chi-square results.
A significant difference was found in receiving help with transportation with
regard to age (x2=148.63, df=2). Again, a difference was found between
receiving help with home or car repairs from brothers and sisters with respect
to age (x2=147.59, df=2). There was also a difference between receiving help
with housework from brothers and sisters in reference to age (x2=170.21,
df=2). Again, there was also a difference between receiving advice or moral
support from siblings with regard to age (x2=253.82, df=2).
The results of the bivariate results run with regard to age were the
most significant. Age seems to be related to all give and receive variables that
pertain to siblings. The hypothesis certainly did not predict such strong
results with regard to age and siblings.
47


CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION
The overall nature of sibling relationships and the question of their benefit to
the individuals involved in them, has not been explained or answered in this
study. This particular study had a different aim. Its aim was to shed some
light on how siblings interact and support one another relevant to their gender,
to their race, and to their age. Its objective was also to give much needed
information to an understudied area of Family Sociology. In considering the
intentions of this study, it did in fact, attain those goals.
The study did, however, have its limitations. The available literature
on siblings comes mainly from psychology and popular culture, rather than
from theory or research. Unfortunately, in the past very few Family
sociologists focused on siblings and their role in the family. It is pertinent
here to say that the family is made up of systems. For example, parents form
one system, and children or siblings form another, and even with this
significant alliance they hold within the family, they are still neglected
relevant to the lack of research that exists. Given these facts, this study
becomes quite important to fill in the gaps while also fostering a need for
48


future research. Although the lack of literature and research is considered to
be a limitation with regard to this study, it may also be seen as positive in that
the role of sibling relationships is finally being recognized within Family
sociology.
On the other hand, one of the strengths of the study is the data used for
analysis of the hypotheses. NSFH employs a nationally representative large
sample with a 73.5 percent response rate. NSFH is reliable and recognized
within social science research, however, it is comprised of secondary data.
The disadvantage to this is that I did not get to ask my own questions,
questions that would directly relate to what I was attempting to study.
Considering this, I would not have measured material and emotional support
with the same indicators provided in NSFH. Material and emotional support
was measured with a positive or negative response, which undercuts the
validity of the answers. For instance, I do not know how the respondents
understood the questions, or how they interpreted material or emotional
support. Ultimately I cannot infer from the way the question was asked
whether the respondents understood emotional support in the same manner as
it has been defined in the social support literature. Furthermore, I could not
validate whether or not the respondents conceive of advice or help with
finances or services as an aspect of emotional support. In the literature
49


emotional support is defined as, behavior that fosters feelings of comfort and
leads the individual to believe that he/she is liked, respected, and loved, and
others are available to provide care, trust, and security (Jacobson, 1986, p.
252). The literature may define emotional support this way, and yet
respondents of NSFH may not have had access to this definition when
answering survey questions. By the same token, NSFH has another strength
in that the indicators used were measured in a reciprocal fashion, giving and
receiving support.
Financial support is an integral part of material support if one roughly
conceptualizes social support as having three components: material support,
emotional support, and cognitive support. However, the indicators for
financial support were not used consistently for siblings and friends. Thus, the
financial aspect was left out.
Birth order and how it affects siblings was a neglected topic in this
study. Information on birth order is unavailable in NSFH, therefore, it was
not realistic to examine this area. Age, however, is part of the measure, as
well as a significant part of the results. Age did provide certain insight on the
give and receive indicators in terms of how they are incorporated into the
respondents sibling relationships relative to their age. Therefore, age was not
a focus, but it was an important part of the overall results of the study.
50


Another limitation to the concept of age is that the age differences between
siblings were unknown. The subsamples created in this study may have been
comparing siblings with a twenty year age gap to siblings with a two year age
gap. In an attempt to explain some of the generational ideas found in the
literature, the age groupings were created in the measurement of the study.
However, this still does not properly examine the age differences because the
data was not coded in a manner that allows for that type of analysis.
Another strength of the study is that siblings have been defined as only
full siblings. By doing so, a lot of confusion was eliminated. Examining full
siblings gives the study strength and validity in that the definition of the
relationship was clear. Future research may focus on step-siblings, foster
siblings, and adopted siblings, as there is still so much to be discovered within
these relationships.
This study does have the absence of theory. No one theory was
applied in the study as the aim was not to test a specific theory, but to gain a
better understanding of the nature of sibling relationships. Various
researchers have suggested that specific theories should be developed to
understand and categorize siblings (Ihinger-Tallman, 1987). However, one
can apply theories available within the discipline of sociology to the area of
sibling relationships. Before any theories can be constructed or applied from
51


the discipline of sociology, more specific understanding and insight must be
gathered about siblings.
In terms of a future direction, I would begin by implementing my own
survey instrument with the capability of studying the aspects of sibling
relationships that I am most interested in. Throughout the course of this study
I found myself continuously asking the same question over and over. Why do
people with siblings consistently turn to friends for emotional support rather
than turning to their siblings? What is it about friendships that differ so
drastically from sibling relationships? Is it the achieved friendship that takes
precedence over the ascribed sibling relationship? After asking myself these
questions, it becomes apparent that I have not found the answers to all of my
questions on sibling relationships within the scope of this study. Although, if
I have learned anything from my research, it is that siblings truly have a bond.
Whether that bond is positive or negative, it affects those who are involved in
the relationship it fosters. In reading personal accounts of sibling
relationships, it is important here to say that many times people with siblings
have a very hard time even defining, or more importantly describing, their
relationship. It is from accounts such as these that aid in originating my
questions and curiosity about the nature of sibling relationships, and more
specifically, why I chose to compare them to friendships. What is it that
52


complicates a sibling relationship enough that it makes it difficult to describe
to others? It may be the dynamic of the family in which it was developed in,
or it may be that sibling relationships are one of the most dominant
relationships found in ones life. Whatever the reasoning, it is nothing less
than evident that this unique area of Family Sociology is worthy of more
attention. In actuality, the possibilities for future research may be endless.
53


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1. Abbey, Antonia., Abramis, David J., Caplan, Robert D. (1985). Effects of
Different Sources of Social Support and Social Conflict on Emotional Well-
Being. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 6, 111-129.
2. Avioli, Paula Smith. (1989). The Social Support Functions of Siblings in
Later Life. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, no. 1,45-57.
3. Bank, Stephen P., Kahn, Michael D. (1982). The Sibling Bond. New York:
Basic Books.
4. Bedford, Victoria H. (1989). Sibling Research in Historical Perspective -
The Discovery of a Forgotten Relationship, American Behavioral Scientist,
Vol. 33, No. 1,6-18.
5. Blake, Judith., Bhattacharya, Jennifer. (1991). Number of Siblings and
Sociability. Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 53, 271-283.
6. Boer, Frits, Judy Dunn (Eds.). (1992/ Children's Sibling Relationships
Developmental Issues. USA- Erlbaum and Associates.
7. Cicirelli, Victor C. (1994). Sibling Relationships Across the Lifespan.
New York: Plenum Press.
8. Connidis, Ingrid Amet. (1989). Siblings as Friends in Later Life.
American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, no. 1, 81-93.
9. Crispell, Diane. (1996). The Sibling Syndrome. American
Demographics, August, 24-30.
10. Dunn, Judy, Kendrick, Carol. (1982). Siblings Love, Envy and
Understanding. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
11. Gold, Deborah T. (1989). Generational Solidarity. American Behavioral
Scientist, Vol. 33, no. 1,19-32.
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12. Goode, Erica E. (1994). The Secret World of Siblings. U.S. News and
World Report, January 10, 45-50.
13. Handel, Gerald. (1986). Beyond Sibling Rivalry: An Empirically
Grounded Theory of Sibling Relationships. In Patricia A. Adler, Peter Adler
(Eds.), Sociological Studies of Child Development (pp. 105-122).
Connecticut: Jai Press.
14. Hargrave, Terry D., Anderson, William T. (1992). Finishing Well Aging
and Reparation in the Intergenerational Family. New York: Brunner/Mazel
Inc.
15. Hetherington, E. Mavis, Reiss, David, Plomin Robert (Eds.). (1994).
Separate Social Worlds of Siblings: The Impact ofNonshared Environment on
Development. New Jersey: Erlbaum.
16. Horwitz, Allan. (1993). Adult Siblings as Sources of Social Support for
the Seriously Mentally 111: A Test of the Serial Model. Journal of Marriage
and the Family, Vol. 55, 623-632.
17. Ihinger-Tallman, Marilyn, Pasley, Kay. (1987). Sibling and Stepsibling
Bonding in Stepfamilies, in Remarriage and Step-parenting: A Theoretical
Approach. USA: Guilford Press.
18. Jacobson, D.E. 1986. Types and Timing of Social Support. Journal of
Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 27, 250-267.
19. Jung, John. (1987). Toward a Social Psychology of Social Support.
Basic catd Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 8, 57-83.
20. Kramer, Laurie., Baron, Lisa A. (1995). Intergenerational Linkages:
How Experiences with Siblings Relate to the Parenting of Siblings. Journal
of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 12, no. 1,67-87.
21. Klagsbrun, Francine. (1992). Mixed Feelings Love, Hate, Rivalry and
Reconciliation Among Brothers and Sisters. USA: Bantam.
22. Kutner, Lawrence., Singer, Mark. (1996). Only Kids Arent Lonely.
Parents, February 109-110.
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23. Markowitz, Laura M. (1994). Sibling Connections. Utne Reader,
May/June, 51-62.
24. McLanahan, Sara S., Sorenson, AageB. (1985). Life Events and
Psychological Well-Being Over the Life Course. In Glen H. Elder Jr. (Ed./
Life Course Dynamics Trajectories and Transitions 1968-1980 (pp. 217-237).
New York: Cornell University Press.
25. Powell, Thomas H., Ogle, Peggy Ahrenhold. (1985/ Brothers and Sisters
A Special Part of Exceptional Families. London: Paul H. Brooks Publishing.
26. Ross, Hegola., Milgram, Joel. (1982). Important Variables in Adult
Sibling Relationships: A Qualitative Study. In Michael E. Lamb and Brian
Sutton Smith (Eds.) Sibling Relationships (pp. 225-249). New Jersey:
Erlbaum.
27. Seltzer, Mildred M. (1989). The Three Rs of Life Cycle Sibships.
American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, no. 1, 107-115.
28. Stormshak, Elizabeth., Bellanti, Christina J., Bierman, Karen L. (1996).
The Quality of Sibling Relationships and the Development of Social
Competence and Behavioral Control in Aggressive Children. Developmental
Psychology, Vol. 32, no. 1, 79-89.
29. Suggs, Patricia K. (1989). Predictors of Association Among Older
Siblings. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, No. 1, 70-80.
30. van Aken, Marcel., Asendorpfj Jens B. (1997). Support by Parents,
Classmates, Friends and Siblings in Preadolescence: Covariation and
Compensation Across Relationships. Journal of Social and Personal
Relationships, Vol. 12, no. 1, 79-93.
31. Yanagisako, S.J. (1977). Women Centered Kin Networks in Urban
Bilateral Kinship Systems. American Ethnologist, Vol. 4, 207-226.
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Full Text

PAGE 1

SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS AND SOCIAL SUPPORT THE WAYS IN WInCH SIBLINGS SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER THROUGHOUT THE LWECOURSE by Heidi Deutschmann B.A., University of Colorado, 1995 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Sociology 1998

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1998 by Heidi Deutschmann All rights reserved.

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This thesis for the Master of Sociology degree by Heidi Deutschmann has been approved by 'f!zz1129i Date

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Deutschmann, Heidi (M.A., Sociology) Sibling Relationships and Social Support The Ways In Which Siblings Support One Another Throughout the Lifecourse Thesis directed by Dr. Candan Duran-Aydintug ABSTRACT In recent years, research on siblings has increased, however, the area of sibling support has not yet received much attention. The following study has sought to develop the research on siblings by offering more specific information in relation to how siblings support one another throughout the lifecourse. By employing data collected previously(1988 National Survey of Families and Households, NSFH), sibling support has been investigated by comparing social support given by friends versus that of siblings. The variables that determined this type of support are related to various types of help, advice, communication, moral support; and demographic proximity. Additionally, how much social support one gives and receives has been studied in relation to gender and age. Although lately siblings have been receiving more attention, they have essentially been ignored in the past in terms of research leading to theory building. At present, research on siblings is mostly atheoretical, and a need exists for further research in this virtually unexamined area of Family Sociology. Sibling research is no longer restricted to birth order, rivalry, and Freudian jealousy The scope of the research has begun to grow and change. Social support, on the other hand, has begun to secure more attention in the area of Family Sociology, especially in regards to adult siblings Social support is generally defined as the ways in which primary relationships can benefit the individual. While that is a very general definition, previous research has defined more specific avenues that relate back to this general premise For instance, social support functions can be classified as instrumental or expressive. Furthermore, social support research with regard to siblings has produced the term "generational solidarity", which refers to siblings' particular shared life experience. iv

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Essentially, this study provides new information by looking at sibling relationships from a social support perspective. In doing so, the aim was not only to study new determining variables, but also to obtain solid research evidence that will be an important piece in a quest for cumulative knowledge. The hypotheses tested in this study have been mainly supported as the results have shown sibling and friendship differences as well as gender differences with regard to the variables tested. Suggestions for further research have also been discussed. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Signed Dr. Candan v

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DEDICATION I dedicate this thesis to my parents, Rudy and Jane Deutschmann, for their unfaltering encouragement, understanding and support during a time in my life when I needed those things, and them, the most.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I wish to thank Candan Duran-Aydintug not only for her faith in me, but also for her unwavering ability to always see the light at the end of the tunnel, even when I couldn't.

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CONTENTS CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION ... ..................... ................ 1 2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE ...... ..................... 5 Purpose of the Study ... .. ............. .. 24 3. ME,THODS ........ ..... ............ . ... . ....... ...... 27 Characteristics of the General Sample .. .. 29 Characteristics of Sub sample 1 ........... ... 31 Characteristics of Sub sample 2 ............... 36 Measurement ... .. ... . .. . .............. 38 4 RESULTS .. ......... ... ... ... .. .. ...... ... .. ...... 40 5. DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION .......... .............. .48 REFERENCES ... ............................................. 54 viii

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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION In 1967 Gerald Handel, one of the leading researchers on siblings, stated, "Children growing up as members of the same family, sharing a common household with their parents, participate in constructing a world that is both unique to the family and dependent upon the society beyond the family (Handel, Over 30 years later, this statement still rings true. However, with regard to this constructed world that is unique to every family, we must ask ourselves, what keeps it together'? And, more specifically, what fosters sibling relationships after they ultimately leave that world they helped create? These, in fact, are some of the questions I have attempted to explain in my quest for answers about sibling relationships. The literature on siblings, past and present. has also tried to discover the answers to the endless questions that exist with regard to sibling relationships. In terms of relating to a theoretical framework, sibling relationships connect most closely to the theory of attachment. Attachment, and its relevance to sibling relationships, is typically found in the parent child relationship (Klagsbrun, 1992). For instance, if a child has a secure 1

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attachment to one or both parents, they are likely to have a similar attachment to a sibling. However, if a child is attached to a parent in an insecure manner, his/her attachment to a sibling will likely be insignificant. Attachment theory and its relation to siblings is comparable to the concept of equity in sibling relationships (Handel, 1967) Concepts such as rivalry and competition tend to evolve when equity among siblings in terms of parental attention, rewards, and discipline does not balance out fairly (Handel, 1967). Attachment and equity have received much attention in the area of sibling relationships within past research. Yet, there are many subjects within the area of sibling research today. Presently, the research concentrates on concepts such as generational solidarity and multigenerationallegacy, as well as the ideas that surround the concept of social support Social support can be characterized as the interaction between persons encountering actual Of perceived personal problems or difficult life events (Jung, 1987). Social support aids the individual by providing coping strategies and reassurance. Social support can be broken down into three elements: affect, affirmation, and aid. Affect illustrates expressions of love or respect. Affirmation describes the recognition of the appropriateness ofan individual's behaviors or attitudes. Aid, on the other hand, includes immediate assistance, such as loaning money or helping the individual with work (Abbey, Abramis, Caplan, 2

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1985). Social support has also been defined as the interaction between persons encountering actual or perceived personal problems, and their friends or relatives. Furthermore, research on social support has shown that it may calm the effects of stress by furnishing individuals with information that illuminates coping strategies (Abbey, Abramis, Caplan, 1985). The concept of social support has been applied to the understudied area of sibling relationships in an effort to develop this area of Family Sociology, not only to better understand it, but to also better understand how siblings help and support one another throughout their lives. In order to examine these topics, appropriate data had to be located and put to use. The National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) was chosen for this study. It is a national survey administered by Bumpass, Sweet, and Call, which was conducted during 1987 and 1988. NSFH was created to look specifically at the motives and repercussions of changes in the American family and its household composition It contains interviews with a probability sample of 13,017 respondents, with a main cross-section sample of 9,643 households. In each household, a primary respondent was interviewed, as was the spouse or cohabiting partner, if such a person lived there Survey questions encompassed a large assortment of topics such as demographic information, life history information, family process, step parenting, and 3

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sibling relationships to name a few The purpose of my study was to discover whether there are gender differences when it comes to material and emotional support among siblings Based on the literature, women are considered to be the kin-keepers of the family, while men tend to show their love and support to a spouse or relative by giving material types of support (Yanagisko 1977). Therefore, it is then hypothesized that women give and receive more emotional support than men to and from their siblings than men do, and that men will be more likely to give material support to their siblings than women do These hypotheses were tested in two separate subsamples Furthermore, sibling relationships were also compared to friendships to illustrate the similarities and differences in closeness between both types of relationships, hypothesizing gender differences and whether siblings will be preferred over friends In measuring material and emotional support, the same give and receive indicators were used to compare friends and siblings, as well as to compare gender differences 4

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CHAPTER 2 REVlEW OF LITERATURE Today it seems that concepts and variables that make up sibling relationships are never ending. Is it possible to set limits on the positive and negative aspects of this relationship? The sociology literature that offers information and research on siblings is very limited, and offers very few ideas. However, it is necessary to look at where the literature on siblings originates. Especially in the discipline of psychology, rivalry, competition, and birth order gave way for sibling research, as well as giving it the attention and recognition it deserves. According to Markowitz (1994), past research suggests that people with siblings have a greater sense of knowledge and sensitivity about the world in general. Not only do we learn about the world from our siblings, but we also learn some of the most basic parts of interaction from them as well. Ihinger-Ta1lman (1987) theorized that several of the behaviors, attitudes, and expectations children acquire in the family are learned from brothers and or sisters Further, learning how to be a peer is an excellent example of what siblings have the innate skills to teach, whether good or bad (Goode, 1994) 5

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In the past, for example, sibling research has centered on rivalry, competition, and birth order. Freud looked at rivalry as a natural part of the sibling relationship, in childhood and adulthood (Klagsbrun, 1982). However, does sibling rivalry really last a lifetime? Markowitz (1994) states that, "Until recently, the phenomenon was believed to be so self-evident that no one bothered to challenge it. But are aggression and envy really the overarching emotions siblings have for one another? (1994, p. 56)". The ways in which parents interact with each of their children can affect the degree of sibling rivalry among their children If one child receives more attention than another does from a parent, this will adversely affect the sibling relationship, not necessarily the parent child relationship Handel (1986) states that equity is one of the most fundamental issues found in sibling relationships Children are perceptive to the ways their parents and their siblings treat them. As they are attentive to this, they also make comparisons between rewards and disciplines given to them and their siblings. If in fact parents do illustrate favoritism, this could cause resentment and/or competition between siblings. Competition may be a direct result of sibling rivalry, and competition can certainly last a lifetime. However, are siblings fully aware of why they compete in the first place? Although social awareness and development of children is far more advanced than once thought, children do not maintain the 6

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ability to comprehend who or what may have turned them against one another Most competitive adult siblings aren't able to notice the entire picture either (Dunn, 1993) In terms of the prevalence and strength of sibling relationships, Goode (1994) theorizes on the reality of both. "Sibling relationships and 80 percent of Americans have at least one outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship (Goode, 1994, p 45). Knowing this, how does our society regard sibling relationships? How much importance is placed on cultivating them? Rituals and celebrations that focus directly on siblings and their importance do not exist. If the sibling bond is so vital, why is it neglected? While it goes unrecognized, it still manages to flourish for some siblings; as research illustrates that siblings do in fact support one another during the lifecourse In terms of establishing an individuality beyond the family, or beyond the relationships found within the family, Handel (1986) suggests that in as much as siblings are involved with one another, expecting and seeking loyalty, they are also striving to become distinct individuals For instance, they are striving to become individuals that have the ability to limit the claims and demands that others came to make on them. Siblings are more or less attempting to find themselves, establish relationships with one another, and 7

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interact in a setting that is already problematic, a family setting. What can be expected, or realized in an already constructed environment of an existing family in terms of sibling relationships is ultimately up to the individual. Handel, for instance, conceptualizes that, "Children growing up as members of the same family sharing a common household with their parents participate in constructing a world that is both unique to the family and dependent upon the society beyond the family"(Handel,1986, p. 108). Gender differences may also playa role in terms of how siblings tend to support, or not support, one another during the course of their lives. Is one gender more likely to encourage sibling relationships than another? Crispell (1996) states that some parts of sibling relationships remain a mystery, even though it is apparent that women display stronger sibling bonds However, she adds that it is arduous to conclude how much of this is due to societal norms that tend to foster women toward maintaining family relationships, versus how much of this maintenance is due to true familial feeling (1996). Gender notwithstanding, there are other variables that affect the sibling bond. Geographic proximity, economic constraints, and time also have a hand in the sibling bond being stifled later in life As children, siblings have no choice but to always be around one another They do, however, have a choice as to whether or not they support their siblings during childhood and adolescence. 8

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Ethnicity is an area that lacks research with regard to siblings. Few studies are notable to date, with exception to findings on African Americans and Italian Americans. Avioli (1989) employs Hayes and Mindel's (1973) understanding that African American siblings maintain a strong solidarity because of continual interaction. Avioli further uses Johnson's (1982), research regarding Italian American solidarity Johnson (1982) found an impressive amount of sibling solidarity among Italian Americans, in comparison to white Protestant siblings (Johnson, 1982) In the studies on ethnicity, solidarity not social support, has been the focus or the outcome Familial solidarity is not universal in degree, in terms of its intensity or lack there of However, as mentioned earlier, a relationship found within family solidarity can be linked to ethnicity. Furthermore, Johnson (1982) also found that sibling solidarity fluctuates by family composition variables such as ethnicity Additionally, there are six criteria imperative to interaction and solidarity among families: family structure, associational solidarity consensual solidarity, affectual solidarity, functional solidarity, and normative solidarity (Gold, 1989). These concepts are not specifically defined in Gold's work, nonetheless, their titles do imply a sense of the form of solidarity they describe. Attachment theory developed by psychologists provides insight for 9

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Family sociologists who are studying sibling relationships. Attachment theory, a primary building block of modem psychology, accentuates the need for children to possess a close bond with a parent (Klagsbrun, 1992). Attachment, and its relevance to sibling relationships, is illustrated in a few forms. First, it is necessary to look at the parent-child relationship and the type of attachment found within it (Boer & Dunn, 1992). If, for instance, a child is insecurely attached to a parent, it will be likely that their attachment to a sibling will be insignificant. On the other hand, when siblings are securely attached to one or both parents, their attachment to one another will likely be similar. In other words, if siblings can build a basis of identification and response with one another, as parents do with children, the sense of attachment will grow (Klagsbrun, 1992). Sibling attachment also tends to originate when there is the death of a parent, neglect from a parent, or having to cope with misfortune early in life. Klagsbrun (1992) points out that gender brings out different kinds of attachment for siblings. The distinctions are not found between brothers, or between brothers and sisters. The variance is located within the sister relationship. Her findings note that sisters having the tightest bonds of attachment on nearly every scale of closeness Further, attachment to a sister does not end in childhood or adolescence. Along the same line, Klagsbrun 10

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(1992) further states that research has found that elderly men and women manage far better when they have a sister they can rely on for emotional as well as material support, versus those who do not have a sister in their family. The ways in which siblings interact with one another in childhood and adolescence could very well shape their patterns for intimacy later in life. Therefore, before one is able to understand the relationship between siblings, the environment in which siblings grew up must also be understood. Brofenbrenner (1979) conceptualized a set of four social structures imperative to comprehending the ways in which one's surroundings will impact and shape development (Brofenbrenner, 1979, cited in !hinger-Tallman, 1987). The first structure, the microsystem, is the true setting where the child encounters reality. The second, the meso system, is a relationship or a tie between structures. The third, the exosystem, encapsulates experiences which have an impression on a child's development, however, the child does not hold an immediate role in these experiences. The fourth structure, the macro system, is the vast social structure where the other three are located. For instance, the macrosystem could be characterized as the larger social structure or culture predominant in any society. (IhingerTallman, 1987). Building upon Brofenbrenner's conceptualization, attachment may also playa part in how siblings will relate to one another later in life. 11

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Although it is unlikely that siblings will have the opportunity to continuously share the same bedroom or live under the same room in their adult lives, it is these very experiences that helped to form their attachment to one another. These memories enable siblings to foster their attachment feelings and sustain them in their adult lives (Klagsbrun, 1992). Social Support According to Van Aken & Asendorpf(1997) the outcome of social support and its function for the individual is maintained by a personal network of relationships. These especially close relationships, whether they are relationships between mother, father, sibling, or peer, tend to provide social support for those involved in them. The level of social support these particular relationships afford the individual depends upon what kind of relationship the members have. In looking specifically at siblings, most research illustrates that many siblings sustain fairly strong ties and interchange a good amount of aid and services throughout the lifecourse (Horowitz, 1993). In considering this interchange and the other relationships siblings have with their parents, or peer groups, sibling social support relationships may be stronger in the absence of parental or peer relationships. According to Horowitz (1993), kinship norms that denote affection, allegiance, 12

PAGE 21

collaboration, arid aid may be exercised when other close relations are lacking Additionally, the specialized supportive functions that siblings furnish to one another mirror the unique characteristics of the sibling relationship. (Avioli, 1989). Growing up together, siblings understand each other in a very particular way, which also refer to the ways they are capable of supporting one another. According to Jung (1987), another way to characterize social support is to see it as the interaction between persons encountering actual or perceived personal problems, or difficult life events, and the interaction of their friends and relatives. He further adds that the providers of the social support originate of variety of benefits that help the distressed person to cope with what is happening in their life (1987). His focus has thus become the provider of the social support, rather than the recipient, as studies in the past have concentrated mainly on the recipient. Moreover, Abbey, Abramis, and Caplan (1985) employed Kahn and Antonucci's (1980) definition of social support for their study on social support and social conflict. This 1980 description explains that social support is composed of three elements: affect, affIrmation, and aid. Affect illustrates expressions love or respect. AfflllI1ation describes the recognition of the suitableness of individuals' behaviors or attitudes. Aid, on the other hand, 13

PAGE 22

includes immediate assistance, such as loaning others money or helping them with their work. Abbey, Abramis, and Caplan (1985) noted that social support may calm the effects of stress on affect and well-being by furnishing individuals with information that illuminates coping strategies. In providing these reassurances, this particular support seems to reduce the feeling of intimidation. The effort of reassurance creates a "buffering effect" for the recipient of the social support, which relates back to the concept of affirmation (Abbey, Abramis, and Caplan, 1985). According to Avioli (1989), sociodemographic and family structure variables arbitrate the actual provision of social support. Examples of these social support mediators are the following: geographic proximity, social network structure, health and functional status, developmental stage, gender composition, socioeconomic status and ethnicity The impact of each of these mediators is related to the social support function that they help describe and/or discern. Specifically, social support functions can be classified in two ways, instrumental or expressive. Instrumental support includes economic help, or help with transportation and cooking On the other hand, expressive support "deals with affectual, empathetic, or social psychological concerns. In 14

PAGE 23

contrast to instrumental supports, expressive supports are not as dependent on physical proximity (Avioli, 1989, p. 46)". These types of social support are valid when considering sibling support because they come into play at virtually any stage of life in the relationship, other than preadolescence Reciprocity, another aspect of social support, has three separate types. Generalized reciprocity which refers to 'lhe altruistic extreme in which individuals give aid without the conscious expectation of repayment. They represent the center of the individual's social integration (Avioli, 1989, p. 50)". Negative reciprocity, on the other hand, is extremely exploitive to a point where the individual is only interested in taking from another (Avioli, 1989). Finally, balanced reciprocity constitutes direct and equitable exchanges and characterizes the relationships in the secondary ring of social integration (Sahlins, 1965). Generally, sibling relationships tend to interact with balanced reciprocity Avioli (1989) asserts that in light of the fact that siblings typically anticipate an equitable exchange, neglecting to reciprocate will probably disrupt the relationship Social support and the ways in which it is displayed can be affected by many factors. Variables that relate to sociodemographics and family structure are thought to change the degree to which social support is given. For instance, geographic proximity can certainly affect support, or lack there of, in 15

PAGE 24

any relationship, including a sibling relationship. "Although expressive supports theoretically can be exchanged at a distance, help requiring physical presence and even some affectional support does appear to be negatively related to geographical distance (Avioli,1989, p. 53)". An individual's, age, socioeconomic status, or stage in life, may also affect the way in which social support is presented. The age variable relates back to an inherent change in the relationship as time goes on, as the individual changes. Whereas high socioeconomic status allows for mobility to travel and the freedom to help a sibling financially, the other end of the spectrum would not allow for this. A sibling without financial stability may not have means to travel, and without periodic visitation, the support may not be fostered. Avioli (1989) determines that in those situations when similarity and value consensus are found with the intentional and/or reciprocal interchange of supports, this contact is likely to conclude with a sibling's improved well-being. In an effort to illustrate the unique way siblings can offer to support one another, research compared friendship social support with sibling social support Although a sibling relationship is ascribed and not achieved, an element of an achieved relationship can also exist. Siblings have to make an effort to help or support one another, that is, their support is not always an automatic reaction. Their help may come from loyalty to one another or it 16

PAGE 25

may be a form of bonding from childhood. The process of sibling bonding is also an important factor in the quest to better understand sibling relationships and their benefits. Ross and Milgram (1982) found that shared experiences in childhood often lead to a reported closeness among siblings, which could also foster bonding. According to IhingerTallman (1987), bonding is a process and is also susceptible to change. In addition, Turner (1970) also writes that bonding will offer a solid emotional connection that keeps people together, while causing them to interact. It is these interactions that create a bond Turner (1970) also states that new bonds may emanate and old bonds will deepen when family members are very encompassed with one another during a period of time. Avioli (1989) takes the bonding process a step further and Claims that siblings provide psychological support due to the emotional bonds between them, not because of their sense of certain obligation. The limitation in terms of the emotional processes involved with sibling relationships is that there is a lack of sociological research in this area. Again, most of the research is found in the area of psychology. Factors that bring out social support among siblings are, for example, the death of a parent or another family member, illness, stress, divorce, or economic difficulty. When a sibling has cause to look to his/her sibling for 17

PAGE 26

advice or help, it is not unlike invoking the help of a friend. Yet, where do the differences between siblings and friends lie? Avioli (1989) states that the connection to a sibling is ascribed whereas the tie that exists between friends is achieved. Is it possible to define friends and siblings independent of one another? They are not interchangeable, and yet, they are very similar. Do siblings display more loyalty than friends in regards to their relationships, or vice versa? Connidis (1989), further argues that only the process of mutual confiding is exclusively related to thinking of a sibling as a close friend. Therefore, if one chooses to confide in another person, not in a family member, this would be the definition of a friend. When siblings do this for one another, confide, they also become a friend. As friends offer social support, siblings also have this ability, however, siblings offer social support with a unique dynamic in that they have the capacity to understand each other in the context of coming from the same household. Siblings have a particular perspective on knowing how to support one other effectively, as they have grown up together, and have known each other in certain ways Additionally, sibling relationships can be classified as primary relationships. According to Avioli (1989), primary relationships are those, which are close, affectionate, and committed, and are further characterized by frequent interaction. Weiss (1974) developed the six 18

PAGE 27

functions that primary relationships can potentially provide: (l) provide a sense of attachment or intimflcy, (2) offer the opportunity for nurturant behavior, (4) give reassurance of worth, (5) provide a sense of reliable alliance, and (6) provide guidance. "Further, Weiss asserts that these supports enhance an individual's morale and sense of well being (Weiss, 1974, cited in Avioli, 1989, p. 46)". Another form of social support functions are supportive transactions (Kahn, 1979). Kahn indicates that there are three types of supportive transactions: expression of positive affect of one person toward another; affirmation or endorsement of another person's behaviors, perceptions, or expressed views; and the giving of symbolic or material aid to another. "Succinctly put, Kahn's model suggests that primary relationships potentially afford aid, affirmation, and/or affect (Kahn 1979, cited in Avioli, p. 46, 1989)". In effect, supportive transactions relate directly to siblings in that siblingship is a primary relationship, one that can also be an example of different types of supportive transactions. Also notable in current research findings is the importance of the sibling lifecycle. The lifecycle is currently being studied in terms of middle to late life sibling relationships, more specifically, the baby boom generation Seltzer (1989) theorizes that over time, siblings are inclined to develop more 19

PAGE 28

accepting and approving feelings for one another They also appear to be more psychologically encompassed with each other and less antagonistic and jealous. According to Gold (no date given), the sibling relationship is strengthened late in life by shared memories and the relationship's past existence rather than frequent interactions. Gold's theory is somewhat contradictory to the concept of reciprocity, however, his framework and the concept of reciprocity have been adopted in the literature. Along the same path of the sibling lifecycle, are the concepts of generational solidarity, multigenerationallegacy, as well as the multidimensional nature of sibling relationships These concepts are all very similar, and yet they each have very subtle differences. The multigenerational theory focuses on a three-tiered model by Bedford (1989) that looks at agingrelated events, intrapsychic processes, and sources of values According to Bedford (1989), the contradicting fact that, whereas the sibling relationship is believed to improve with age, it does not seem to transform overtly Therefore, this may create the need in researchers to look beyond the surface of sibling relationships, if understanding the true nature of the relationship is going to begin. Generational solidarity, on the other hand, proposes that being a part of the same generation produces a particular capacity for empathy and a 20

PAGE 29

mutual awareness of the significance of shared experiences (Avioli, 1989). These directly relate to siblings in that they have many similarities such as common family values, style of interaction, perception of reality and the outside world Siblings possess the ability to validate one another's perceptions of themselves and the world that surrounds them (Ross and Milgram, 1982) Further, this better equips siblings to provide or offer social support to one another. Having a common early life and adolescent experience, when personal development is at its most crucial stages, the interactions between siblings illustrate what each sibling has the ability to give and communicate. Therefore, later life interactions may tend to be similar in that siblings understand from past experience what they are prepared and able to handle in certain instances. Research has suggested that the composition of sibling relationships later in life may differ with regard to socioeconomic status (Avioli, 1989) In tenns of predictors, socio-economic status, especially comparisons between working class and middle class individuals offer interesting findings. For instance, the mobility of the middle class allows for greater likelihood of interaction, whereas the working class possesses limited resources, which would restrict travel. Further, education may also constitute another difference in that siblings who receive higher education may be farther away 21

PAGE 30

from one another because of job opportunities Types of support given by each class is inconclusive due to conflicting research findings, however, working class siblings have been linked to instrumental support functions, whereas middle class siblings are linked to individualized expressive functions (Avioli, 1989). Self-esteem has also become an important variable in current research on siblings. Similar to other close relationships in a person's life, siblings have the power to affect one other's self-esteem. Whether it is a positive or negative influence on self-esteem, depends on the relationship However, Avioli's (1989) research illustrates that in those cases where similarity and value consensus exist along with a voluntary and mutual interchange of support, contact between siblings will likely result in the sibling's heightened well-being. Realistically, sibling interaction is not always positive, and the outcome can certainly be negative However, for the purposes of research on self-esteem, the literature tends to focus only on the positive effects of this variable. Sandler (cited in van Aken and Asendorph, 1997) has depicted three processes through which social support can influence adjustment, specifically, protecting one's self-esteem. Social support is able to guard self-esteem for children who are experiencing stress via three mechanisms: one, preventing 22

PAGE 31

the transpiration of stressful incidents; two, to moderate the contrary effects of stress on self-esteem; three, to directly expand Finally, van Aken and Asendorph (1997) claim that high self-esteem may increase the probability of obtaining support when one requires it and the recognition of support when the support is actually provided Therefore, theoretical frameworks can surely apply to siblings when and if they are providing the social support, they are also contributing to another sibling's self-esteem. If sibling relationships are an important factor in one's life, the likelihood that they would be influenced by social support, and in turn, self-esteem, is quite high. For instance, Seltzer (1989) states in her summary of the book Growing Old by Cumming and Henry (1961) that they found sibling relationships to be an immediate second to relationships in importance. However, in terms of looking at the negative side of social support, Jung (1987) has pointed out that social support from others may threaten one's self-esteem in that the social support could cause resentment. Personal autonomy also has an affect on sibling relationships. Independence has a certain social value, which can cause a possible dilemma when deciding between complying with the norm of self-sufficiency and the realistic need of asking for help (Avioli, 1989). Society teaches individuals to go at life without the support offamily after a certain age, after which the 23

PAGE 32

individual gains independence, and asking for assistance may breach a level of this social contract. In effect, social support does not come easily, from either the giving or receiving end. Social support can be crucial, but the possible price tag that may be attached to it cannot be overlooked. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, social support has the ability of coming across as negative. For instance, Avioli (1989) states that social support or help may be a reminder of incompetence, weakness, or even failure, especially among adults. Jung (1987) further adds that recipients of social support may be ashamed to receive help because it may lead to an admission of helplessness on their part. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to examine whether there are gender differences when it comes to material and emotional support among siblings. For both kinds of support, there are several measures. First, in relation to material support, there are three indicators: give/receive help with transportation, give/receive help with home or car repairs, give/receive help with housework. For emotional support, there are also three indicators: give/receive advice and/or moral support, who would you call if you were depressed or confused, as well as one specific question asked to respondents, 24

PAGE 33

who had at least one marital separation, regarding the emotional support they received during separation. Based on the literature, women are considered to be the kin-keepers of the family (Yanagisako, 1977), while men tend to give support in more instrumental or material ways (Cancian, 1987). Therefore, it is hypothesized that one's sex will be related to one's giving and receiving material and emotional support from siblings. The gender difference hypotheses are as follows: 1. Women will give more material support to their siblings than they give to their friends 2 Women will give more emotional support to their siblings than they give to their friends. 3 Women will receive more material support from their siblings than they receive from their friends 4 Women will receive more emotional support from their siblings than they receive from their friends. 5. Men will give more material support to their friends than they give to their siblings 6 Men will give more emotional support to their friends than they give to their siblings 7 Men will receive more material support from their friends than from their siblings. 8. Men will receive more emotional support from their friends than they receive from their siblings. The limitation of the cases employed in NSFH is that it is unknown whether respondents have one or more sibling, if they have brother/and or sister combinations, or what the birth order is among them. Distance was also tested in that a subsample was created to include 25

PAGE 34

respondents with at least one sibling, as well as controlling for having a sibling living within one and three hundred miles from the respondent were tested The rationale for creating this subsample was that if respondents did not have a sibling within driving distance, it was likely that instrumental social support could not be given or taken. Race and ethnicity were also investigated as it is illustrated in the literature that race and ethnicity may cause the degree of solidarity to differ among siblings. It is therefore hypothesized that one's race will be related to one's giving and receiving material and emotional support from siblings These tests were again compared to friend variables in an attempt to uncover differences. Finally, age was also examined. The age variable was recoded into three categories: first, ages 17 through 35; second, ages 36 through 50; and third, ages 51 and over. The intention was to find out whether age and giving and receiving support to and from siblings were related The rationale for the age groupings was to look specifically at generational solidarity among siblings, as discussed in the literature 26

PAGE 35

CHAPTER 3 METHODS The data employed for this project are taken from a national survey; National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), administered by Bumpass, Sweet, and Call, in 1987 through 1988. NSFH was created to look specifically at the motives and repercussions of changes in the American family and household composition. It contains interviews with a probability sample of 13,017 respondents, with a main cross-section sample of9,643 households, as well as a weighted sampling of blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans, single-parent families and families with stepchildren, and cohabiting or recently married couples. NSFH conducted personal interviews, while also providing supplemental self-administered questionnaires. In each household, a primary respondent (Rl) was interviewed, as was the spouse or cohabiting partner of the primary respondent, if such a person lived there. Survey questions encompassed a large assortment of topics such as demographic information, life history information, family process, step parenting and sibling relationships to name a few. The response rate was 73.5% in the main sample, and 76.8% in the oversample 27

PAGE 36

NSFH was modeled to provide a comprehensive data reserve on the American family and its household structure. The survey furnishes a cross sectional glance at American family life. There were five stages of selection in the sample design Stage 1 included a selection from 100 U.S. counties or county groups with probability-proportional-to-size-sampling, which were referred to as Primary Sampling Units, or PSU's. 1985 population projections gave the basis for size. Stage 2 selected subdistricts from the PSU's chosen in Stage 1. The selection of subdistricts or PSU's depended on their population. The final number of subdistricts was 1700, constructing an average of 17 per PSU. These subdistricts were then referred to as Secondary Sampling Units, or SSU's. In stage 3, one area was selected from each SSu. An area consisted of 45 or more households. In stage 4, a ''lister'' was sent to each of the 1,700 areas to obtain all addresses within the listing area boundaries. From this, approximately 20 addresses in each area listing were chosen for inclusion in the sample. One half of the households selected in stage 4 were randomly assigned to be in the main sample, and the other halfwas designated for the oversample. Finally, in stage 5, interviewers screened each of these potential households, compiled a list of all household members, and established one primary respondent. 28

PAGE 37

Characteristics of the General Sample In the National Survey of Families and Households, the data are described by responses given from R1 (the primary respondent), and R2 (spouse or cohabiting partner), ifR2 was living with RI, or available to be interviewed The mean age found for all primary respondents was 42.84, the youngest being 16 and the oldest being 95. All secondary respondents had a mean age of 41.68, the youngest being 16, and the oldest being 91. Race and ethnicity was separated out into categories for both primary and secondary respondents. Out ofa11 the R1 's, 18.4 percent were Black, 72.5 are White (not Hispanic), 4 8 are Mexican/Chicano, 1.5 percent are Puerto Rican, .3 percent are Cuban, 1.1 percent are Other Hispanic, .4 percent are American Indian, and 1.0 percent are Asian When it comes to marital status, 52.9 percent of all Rl 's were married, 4.9 percent were separated due to marital problems, 13.3 percent were divorced, 10.4 percent were widowed, and 18.5 percent were never married .. However, past marital status of both the primary and secondary respondents was asked. The number of times the primary respondent had been married is as follows: 18.5 percent were never married, 62.2 percent had been married 29

PAGE 38

only once, 15.7 percent had been married twice, 2 9 percent had been married three times, .5 percent had been married four times and 1 percent had been married five times. In terms of education, the ''Highest Grade Rl had Completed in School" variable was selected, with valid percents given as follows: 1.4 percent did not complete first grade, .6 percent completed only first grade, 1.0 percent completed only second grade 2.2 percent completed only third grade, 2 7 percent completed only fourth grade, 2.8 percent completed only fifth grade, 7.1 percent completed only sixth grade, 7.4 percent completed only seventh grade, 17.3 percent completed only eighth grade, 13. 7 percent completed only ninth grade, 19.6 completed only tenth grade, 24.1 completed only eleventh grade In looking at certain family related variables, the primary respondents answered as follows : "Number of Children BornlFathered" the mean was 1 99; "Number of Children Respondent Would Like to Have Ideally" the mean was 2 83; and ''Number of Times Respondent Has Been Married" the mean was 1.05 Further, when the primary respondent was asked, "Did you have more children than intended", 16.7 percent answered yes, while 83. 3 percent answered no Finally, when the primary respondent was asked whether or not their spouse had undergone surgery to have "no more 30

PAGE 39

children", 23.0 percent answered yes, and 77 0 percent answered no. Other family related variables of interest are: "Any of Children Difficult to Raise", 15.6 percent answered yes, while 84.4 percent answered no; "Any of Children Easy to Raise", 61.6 percent answered yes, while 38.4 answered no. In terms of economics or finances, respondents were asked, for instance, whether or not they had ever purchased a home; 61.5 answered yes, while 38.5 answered no Total earnings per household was also gathered; the mean for the primary respondents total earnings was $11,581.53, the mean for the primary respondents spouse total earnings was $19,447.38, and the mean for total household earnings was $25,337 35. Further, 62.9 percent of the respondents were currently working for pay when interviewed, while 37.1 percent were not. Secondary respondents were also asked whether or not they had worked for pay the preceding week; 67 0 percent answered yes, while 33.0 percent answered no. Characteristics of Subsample 1 The subsample, which contains 11,006 cases, is defined as those respondents who have at least one full sibling. First, the general 31

PAGE 40

demographics of the subsample are as follows: the mean age of the respondents (R1) is 42.78; 40. 2 percent of the respondents are male, while 59.8 percent of the respondents are female; 53.3 percent of the respondents are married, 4.9 percent are separated due to marital problems, 13.2 percent are divorced, 10.3 percent are widowed, and 18. 3 percent have never been married. In terms of the Race and Ethnicity in the subsample, 17.9 percent of the respondents are black, 72.7 percent are white (not Hispanic), 5.1 percent are MexicanlChicanolMexican American, 1.5 percent are Puerto Rican, 1.0 percent are Hispanic, and 1.0 percent are Asian. The subsample further illustrated that the average number of children born/fathered to the respondents is 2.01. Almost 16 percent of the respondents said at least one of their children were difficult to raise, while 84.6 percent of the respondents said none of their children were difficult to raise. Further, 61.8 percent of the respondents in the subsample said at least one of their children were easy to raise, as 38.2 percent said none of their children were easy to raise. With regard to economics, the total household earnings found in the sub sample are $25,344 .64, with a maximum of $975,000.00. Sixty-three percent of the respondents in the subsample are currently working for pay, 32

PAGE 41

while 37.0 percent are not. Additionally, 61. 9 percent of the respondents had purchased a home, while 38.1 percent had not. In terms of emotional support or reliance on others, 33.2 percent of respondents said they would call friends or coworkers in an emergency in the middle ofthe night, 21.6 percent said they would call their parents, 16.4 percent said they would call their siblings, and 18.0 percent said they would call their sons or daughters Further, 34.9 percent of respondents said they would ask their friends or coworkers for advice if they were depressed or confused, 17 9 said they would ask their siblings, 17.7 said they would ask their parents, and 13.2 percent said they would ask their sons or daughters With respect to giving or receiving help from siblings, the following frequencies were obtained: 10 4 percent of respondents reported that they did in fact give their brothers and/or sisters help with transportation, while 89.6 percent did not give this kind of help. Six point two percent of respondents gave their brothers and/or sisters help with home or car repairs, while 93. 8 percent did not. Similarly, 6.9 percent gave their brothers and/or sisters help with housework, while 93.1 did not. Twenty-six percent of respondents gave their brothers and/or sister's advice and or moral support, while 74.0 percent did not. The ''receive help" variables are quite similar to the "give help" 33

PAGE 42

variables in terms of their frequency distribution with respect to siblings. Seven percent of respondents said they received transportation from their brothers and/or sisters, while 93.0 percent did not. 4.3 percent of respondents said they received help with home or car repairs from their brothers and/or sisters, while 95. 7 percent did not. The received help with housework variable also resembles the received help with home or car repairs. Four point eight percent of respondents said they did in fact receive help with housework from their brothers and/or sisters, while 95. 2 percent did not. 19.3 percent of respondents said they received advice and/or moral support from their brothers andlor while 80.7 did not. With reference to distance, or physical proximity between siblings, the following variables are pertinent. Seventy percent of respondents do not have a brother or sister living within 2 miles of them, however, 16.6 percent have one sibling living within that distance, and 7.3 percent have 2 siblings living within that distance. Further, 56. 8 percent of respondents do not have a brother or sister living within miles of them, yet 20.7 have one sibling living within this distance, and 10.4 have 2 siblings living within this distance. Sixtyone point one percent of respondents do not have a brother or sister living between 25-300 miles from them, while 20.5 percent have at least one sibling living within that distance, and 9.0 percent have 2 siblings living 34

PAGE 43

within that distance. Finally, 53.1 percent of respondents do not have a sibling living over 300 miles from them, while 21.9 percent have at least one sibling living outside that distance, and 10.6 percent have 2 siblings living outside that distance. In terms of the frequency of visits with full siblings, respondents of the subsample answered as follows: 24.7 percent saw their siblings several times a week; 13.9 percent about once a week; 17.4 percent 1-3 times per month; 23.9 percent several times a year; 12.3 percent about once a year; and 7.7 percent do not see their siblings at all. The frequency distribution for the variable that measured respondents' speaking to their siblings was quite similar to that of their patterns of visitation; 24.8 percent of respondents speak to their siblings several times a week, 16.7 percent speak to their siblings about once a week, 15.7 percent speak to their siblings 1-3 times a month, 18. 2 percent said several times a year, 16.2 percent said about once a year, and 8 3 percent said they do not speak to their siblings. at all. Relative to frequency of visits and communication is whether or not respondents tend to get along with their siblings. Ninety-one point seven percent of respondents said that they get along with all of their siblings, while only 8.3 percent said they do not. 35

PAGE 44

Characteristics of Subsample 2 The second subsample, which contains 10,501 cases, is defined as those who have at least one full sibling, while also controlling for distance. Respondents included in this subsample must have at least one sibling living between one and three hundred miles from them. The descriptives offered on this subsample relate to the "give" and "receive" variables previously illustrated. Additionally, siblings and friends were tested to characterize their differences. In reference to giving help with transportation to a friend or neighbor, 35.8 percent of respondents stated they did give help with this, while 64 2 percent stated they did not. The same variable was tested for siblings, 10.8 percent of respondents in this sample answered that they did give help with transportation to their siblings, while 89.2 did not. In terms of giving help with home or car repairs to a friend or neighbor, 18.1 percent of respondents gave this kind of help, while 81.9 percent did not. Six point four percent of respondents stated they give help with home or car repairs to their siblings, while 93.6 stated they did not. With regard to giving advice or moral support to a friend or neighbor, 50.3 percent responded that they gave this type of support, 49.7 did not. Twenty seven percent of respondents stated they gave advice or moral support to their siblings, while 73. 0 percent did not. 36

PAGE 45

In reference to receiving transportation from a friend or neighbor, 22 6 percent of respondents answered that they did receive help with transportation, while 77.4 did not. Seven point three percent of respondents stated they received help with transportation from siblings, and 92.7 percent did not receive this type of help. Furthermore, with regard to receiving advice or moral support from a friend or neighbor, 39.5 percent of respondents received this type of help, while 60.5 did not. Twenty percent of respondents in this sample received advice or moral support from siblings, 80 percent did not receive this type of support Other emotional support variables were also tested. For instance, respondents were asked whom they would call in an emergency in the middle of the night Respondents included in this sample stated: 3.6 percent answered no one, 32.9 percent stated they would call a friend or neighbor, 22 2 percent said they would call their parents, 17.1 percent said they would call a sibling Respondents were also asked whom they would ask for advice if they were depressed or confused. Ten point three percent stated they would ask no one for advice, 34.9 percent would ask a friend or neighbor, 18.2 percent said they would ask their parents, and 18.5 percent stated they would ask a sibling for advice. In addition, one other emotional support question was tested that 37

PAGE 46

related only to sibling support The question regarding relying on siblings for emotional support during separation was answered on a sliding scale. Thirty five point six percent stated they did not rely on their siblings at all while 20.2 percent stated they relied on their siblings a great deal. Measurement In analyzing data, demographic variables sex and race were used NSFH measures the variable race with 9 different categories: Black, WhitelNot Hispanic, MexicanlChicano/Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Other Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, and Other. For this study, given the very low percentages in categories other than WhitelNot Hispanic, Black, and Hispanic, only these three were used. Support variables were divided in NSFH into give and receive categories. In each, the four questions asked about giving/receiving transportation, giving/receiving help home/car repairs, giving/receiving help with housework, and giving/receiving advice and/or moral support The information in these questions was obtained both regarding siblings and friends Regarding the frequencies for emotional support, for statistical 38

PAGE 47

comparisons, only frequencies in the categories providing for a great deal were used (a great deal rather than often or not at all) For some statistical analyses the variable age which has been originally measured continuously, was recoded as an ordinal variable into three categories: one = ages 17 through 35, two = ages 36 through 50, and three = ages 51 and older. 39

PAGE 48

CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The task of searching for differences or relationships between siblings and friends, as well as between men and women (with regard to siblings), has uncovered certain dualities and connections that will aid in the knowledge for a better understanding of sibling relationships. The categories used to illustrate the affiliations within sibling relationships in this study are: 1. Men and Women, 2 Siblings and Friends. Various give/receive as well as emotional support variables were selected in order to compare the differences within the previously listed categories. In comparing men and women with regard to giving siblings help with home or car repairs, men statistically differed from women with a z score of 2.92 (z=2.92, p
PAGE 49

moral support to brothers and/or sisters. Females tended to give significantly more advice or moral support to their siblings than men did (z=4.60, pO.05}does not show a statistically significant difference among men and women Yet, in terms of receiving advice, as with giving advice, a difference was found. Females are inclined to receive significantly more advice or moral support from brothers and/or sisters (z=5 08, p<0.05) In addition to the give/receive variables, the variable concerning whether or not the respondent gets along with their brothers and/or siblings was tested. A difference between men and women was found, and although it is only a small difference, it is relevant. In looking at the distance sample, the same give and receive variables were tested to compare gender differences A difference of proportions test was run on all "give" and "receive" variables that relate to siblings. The first 41

PAGE 50

variable that indicated a gender difference was receiving advice or moral support from siblings. Females tended to receive more advice or moral support from siblings (z=S.78, p
PAGE 51

tended to call friends significantly more often than siblings, (men z=8.46, p<0.05, women z=9.77, p0.05). The results of the test for siblings did not provide a significant difference (z=O.149, p>0.05) In terms of reliance of emotional support during separation, a 43

PAGE 52

meaningful result was found in the difference of proportions test. Women tended to rely on friends more than siblings with a z result of3.03 (z=3 03, pO.OS). The hypotheses regarding friends were and were not supported in reference to gender differences. Males and females tended to rely on friends more than on siblings in all cases of emotional and physical support. Essentially, the male hypotheses were supported, while the female hypotheses were not. The result referring to emotional support during separation was opposite of the hypothesis in that females tended to rely more on friends, while males relied on siblings as much as they relied on friends. The differences between siblings and friends, males and females, as well as differences within ethnic groups were described by performing chi squares on selected variables. In the first case, respondents gender was compared to the give and receive support variables pertaining to friends. A difference was found with regard to gender and givin,g help/transportation to a friend (X2=9.37S, df=I). A difference was also found with respect to gender and giving advice/moral support to a coworker in terms of gender (X2=54.30, df=I). No difference was found with receiving transportation from a friend. 44

PAGE 53

However, the difference regarding receiving advice/moral support from a friend was statistically significant (X2=93.79, df=1). The same variables were tested again with race as the dependent or column variable. In terms of giving help with transportation to a friend the difference with respect to race was also statistically significant (X2=71.98, df=2) The results in reference to race and giving advice or moral support was also significant (X2=113 34, df=2). Yet, in terms of receiving help with transportation, no difference was found (X2=3.28, df=2). Additionally, a difference was found with respect to receiving advice or moral support from a friend, dependent on race (X2=106 67, df=2). As aforementioned, siblings were also tested as an independent variable, again using gender and race as dependent variables. No difference was found with respect to gender and giving help with transportation among siblings (X2=. 201, df=I) However, with respect to giving advice or moral support, there was in fact a difference (X2=93.03, df=1). In regard to receiving help with transportation, no difference was located (X2=Il.OS, df=I). Once again, a difference was found with receiving advice or moral support from siblings in terms of gender (X2=I73 88, df=I). No significant difference was found with siblings receiving advice or 45

PAGE 54

moral support with regard to race (X2=11.14, df=2). The same was true for siblings giving help with transportation in reference to race (X2=5.24, df=2) However, with regard to siblings giving advice or moral support, a difference was found in terms of race (X2=27.29, df=2). A similar difference was found in reference to receiving help with transportation from siblings (X2=25.83, df=2). The results with regard to gender differences relating to siblings and friends were supported with the difference of proportions tests as well as with the bivariate tests. The outcome was most significant when looking at giving and receiving advice and moral support. In both instances, controlling for race and gender, the results were significant, as predicted in the hypothesis. The respondents' age was also significantly related to giving help to siblings and receiving help from siblings. Specifically, there was a difference in giving help with transportation to brothers and sisters with respect to age (X2=459.44, df=2) There was also a difference in giving help with home or car repairs with respect to age (X2=259.20, df=2) A difference was also found in giving help with housework in regard to age (X2=232.35, df=2). Again, in terms of the give variables, a difference was found in giving advice or moral support to siblings in reference to age (X2=551.84, df=2). 46

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The receive variables were similar in terms oftheir chi-square results. A significant difference was found in receiving help with transportation with regard to age (X2=148 63, df=2) Again, a difference was found between receiving help with home or car repairs from brothers and sisters with respect to age (X2=147.59, df=2) There was also a difference between receiving help with housework from brothers and sisters in reference to age (X2=170 .21, df=2). Again, there was also a difference between receiving advice or moral support from siblings with regard to age (X2=253.82, df=2). The results of the bivariate results run with regard to age were the most significant. Age seems to be related to all give and receive variables that pertain to siblings. The hypothesis certainly did not predict such strong results with regard to age and siblings 47

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CHAPTERS DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION The overall nature of sibling relationships and the question of their benefit to the individuals involved in them, has not been explained or answered in this study This particular study had a different aim. Its aim was to shed some light on how siblings interact and support one another relevant to their gender, to their race, and to their age Its objective was also to give much needed information to an understudied area of Family Sociology. In considering the intentions of this study, it did in fact, attain those goals The study did, however, have its limitations. The available literature on siblings comes mainly from psychology and popular culture, rather than from theory or research. Unfortunately, in the past very few Family sociologists focused on siblings and their role in the family. It is pertinent here to say that the family is made up of systems For example, parents form one system, and children or siblings form another, and even with this significant alliance they hold within the family, they are still neglected relevant to the lack of research that exists Given these facts, this study becomes quite important to fill in the gaps while also fostering a need for 48

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future research. Although the lack of literature and research is considered to be a limitation with regard to this study, it may also be seen as positive in that the role of sibling relationships is finally being recognized within Family sociology. On the other hand, one of the strengths of the study is the data used for analysis of the hypotheses. NSFH employs a nationally representative large sample with a 73.5 percent response rate. NSFH is reliable and recognized within social science research, however, it is comprised of secondary data The disadvantage to this is that I did not get to ask my own questions, questions that would directly relate to what I was attempting to study. Considering this, I would not have measured material and emotional support with the same indicators provided in NSFH. Material and emotional support was measured with a positive or negative response, which undercuts the validity of the answers. For instance, I do not know how the respondents understood the questions, or how they interpreted material or emotional support. Ultimately I cannot infer from the way the question was asked whether the respondents understood emotional support in the same manner as it has been defined in the social support literature. Furthermore, I could not validate whether or not the respondents conceive of advice or help with finances or services as an aspect of emotional support. In the literature 49

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emotional support is defined as, "behavior that fosters feelings of comfort and leads the individual to believe that he/she is liked, respected, and loved, and others are available to provide care, trust, and security (Jacobson, 1986, p. 252)". The literature may define emotional support this way, and yet respondents ofNSFH may not have had access to this definition when answering survey questions. By the same token, NSFH has another strength in that the indicators were measured in a reciprocal fashion, giving and receiving support. Financial support is an integral part of material support if one roughly conceptualizes social support as having three components: material support, emotional support, and cognitive support. However, the indicators for financial support were not used consistently for siblings and friends. Thus the financial aspect was left out. Birth order and how it affects siblings was a neglected topic inthis study. Information on birth order is unavailable in NSFH, therefore, it was not realistic to examine this area. Age, however, is part of the measure, as well as a significant part of the results Age did provide certain insight on the give and receive indicators in terms of how they are incorporated into the respondents' sibling relationships relative to their age. Therefore, age was not a focus, but it was an important part of the overall results of the study. 50

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Another limitation to the concept of age is that the age differences between siblings were unknown. The subsamples created in this study may have been comparing siblings with a twenty year age gap to siblings with a two year age gap. In an attempt to explain some of the generational ideas found in the literature, the age groupings were created in the measurement of the study. However, this still does not properly examine the age differences because the data was not coded in a manner that allows for that type of analysis. Another strength of the study is that siblings have been defined as only full siblings. By doing so, a lot of confusion was eliminated. Examining full siblings gives the study strength and validity in that the definition of the relationship was clear. Future research may focus on step-siblings, foster siblings, and adopted siblings, as there is still so much to be discovered within these relationships. This study does have the absence of theory. No one theory was applied in the study as the aim was not to test a specific theory, but to gain a better understanding of the nature of sibling relationships. Various researchers have suggested that specific theories should be developed to understand and categorize siblings (!hinger-Tallman, 1987). However, one can apply theories available within the discipline of sociology to the area of sibling relationships. Before any theories can be constructed or applied from 51

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the discipline of sociology, more specific understanding and insight must be gathered about siblings. In terms of a future direction, I would begin by implementing my own survey instrument with the capability of studying the aspects of sibling relationships that I am most interested in. Throughout the course of this study I found myself continuously asking the same question over and over. Why do people with siblings consistently tum to friends for emotional support rather than turning to their siblings? What is it about friendships that differ so drastically from sibling relationships? Is it the achieved friendship that takes precedence over the ascribed sibling relationship? After asking myself these questions, it becomes apparent that I have not found the answers to all of my questions on sibling relationships within the scope of this study. Although, if I have learned anything from my research, it is that siblings truly have a bond. Whether that bond is positive or negative, it affects those who are involved in the relationship it fosters. In reading personal accounts of sibling relationships, it is important here to say that many times people with siblings have a very hard time even defining, or more importantly describing, their relationship. It is from accounts such as these that aid in originating my questions and curiosity about the nature of sibling relationships, and more specifically, why I chose to compare them to friendships. What is it that 52

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complicates a sibling relationship enough that it makes it difficult to describe to others? It may be the dynamic of the family in which it was developed in, or it may be that sibling relationships are one of the most dominant relationships found in ones life. Whatever the reasoning, it is nothing less than evident that this unique area of Family Sociology is worthy of more attention. In actuality, the possibilities for future research may be endless 53

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REFERENCES 1. Abbey, Antonia., Abramis, David J., Caplan, Robert D. (1985). Effects of Different Sources of Social Support and Social Conflict on Emotional Well Being. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 6, 111-129. 2. Avioli, Paula Smith. (1989). The Social Support Functions of Siblings in Later Life. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, no. 1,45.57. 3. Bank, Stephen P Kahn, Michael D. (1982). The Sibling Bond. New York: Basic Books. 4. Bedford, Victoria H. (1989). Sibling Research in Historical PerspectiveThe Discovery of a Forgotten Relationship. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, No.1, 6-18. 5. Blake, Judith., Bhattacharya, Jennifer. (1991). Number of Siblings and Sociability. Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 53, 271. 6. Boer, Judy Dunn (Eds.). (1992). Children's Sibling Relationships Developmental Issues. USA Erlbaum and Associates. 7. Cicirelli, Victor C. (1994). Sibling Relationships Across the Lifespan. New York: Plenum Press. 8 Connidis, Ingrid Arnet. (1989). Siblings as Friends in Later Life. American BehavioraL.'i)cientist, Vol. 33, no. 1,81-93. 9. Crispell, Diane. (1996). The Sibling Syndrome. American Demographics, August, 24-30. 10. Dunn, Judy, Kendrick, Carol. (1982). Siblings Love, Envy and Understanding. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. II. Deborah T. (1989). Generational Solidarity. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, no. 1, 19. 54

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12. Goode, Erica E. (1994). The Secret World of Siblings. U.S. News and World Report, January 10,45-50. 13. Handel, Gerald. (1986). Beyond Sibling Rivalry: An Empirically Grounded Theory of Sibling Relationships. In Patricia A. Adler, Peter Adler (Eds.), Sociological Studies of Child Development (pp. 105-122). Connecticut: Jai Press. 14. Hargrave, Terry D., Anderson, William T (1992). Finishing Well Aging and Reparation in the Inter generational Family. New York: BrunnerlMazel Inc. 15. Hetherington, E Mavis, Reiss, David, Plomin Rohert (Eds .). (1994). Separate Social Worlds of Siblings: The Impact ofNonshared Environment on Development. New Jersey: Erlbaum. 16. Horwitz, Allan. (1993). Adult Siblings as Sources of Social Support for the Seriously Mentally Ill: A Test of the Serial Model. Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 55, 623-632. 17. !hinger-Tallman, Marilyn, Pasley, Kay. (1987). "Sibling and Stepsibling Bonding in Stepfamilies", in Remarriage and Step-parenting: A Theoretical Approach. USA: Guilford Press. 18. Jacobson, D.E. 1986. Types and Timing of Social Support. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 27,250-267. 19. Jung, John. (1987). Toward a Social Psychology of Social Support. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 8,57-83. 20. Kramer, Laurie., Baron, Lisa A. (1995). Intergenerational Linkages: How Experiences with Siblings Relate to the Parenting of Siblings. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 12, no. 1,67-87. 21. Klagsbrun, Francine. (1992). Mixed Feelings Love, Hate, Rivalry and Reconciliation Among Brothers and Sisters. USA: Bantam. 22. Kutner, Lawrence., Singer, Mark. (1996). Only Kids Aren't Lonely. Parents, February 109-110. 55

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23. Markowitz, Laura M. (1994). Sibling Connections. Utne Reader, May/June, 51-62. 24 McLanahan, Sara S., Sorenson, Aage B. (1985). Life Events and Psychological Well-Being Over the Life Course. In Glen H. Elder Jr (Ed), Life Course Dynamics Trajectories and Transitions 1968-1980 (pp. 217-237). New York: Cornell Press 25. Powell, Thomas H., Ogle, Peggy Ahrenhold. (1985). Brothers and Sisters A Special Part of Exceptional Families London: Paul H. Brooks Publishing. 26. Ross, Hegola., Milgram, Joel. (1982) Important Variables in Adult Sibling Relationships : A Qualitative Study. In Michael E. Lamb and Brian Sutton Smith (Eds.) Sibling Relationships (pp 225-249). New Jersey: Erlbaum. 27. Seltzer, Mildred M. (1989). The Three R's of Life Cycle Sibships. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, no 1, 107-115. 28 Stormshak, Elizabeth Bellanti, Christina 1., Bierman, Karen L (1996) The Quality of Sibling Relationships and the Development of Social Competence and Behavioral Control in Aggressive Children. Developmental Psychology, Vol. 32, no. 1, 79-89. 29 Suggs, Patricia K. (1989). Predictors of Association Among Older Siblings. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, No.1, 70-80. 30. van Aken, Marcel., Asendorpt: Jens B. (1997). Support by Parents, Classmates, Friends and Siblings in Preadolescence: Covariation and Compensation Across Relationships Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 12, no. 1, 79-93. 31. Yanagisako, S.1. (1977). Women Centered Kin Networks in Urban Bilateral Kinship Systems. American Ethnologist, Vol. 4,207-226. 56