The influence of sibling relationship quality on emotional distress from adolescence to early midlife

J Fam Psychol. 2024 Feb 22. doi: 10.1037/fam0001209. Online ahead of print.


This study examines continuity and change in sibling relationship quality (warmth and hostility) from adolescence to adulthood, as well as how changes in sibling relationship quality across developmental stages are associated with early midlife emotional distress. Data come from the Family Transitions Project, a two-decade longitudinal study of youth and their families followed from adolescence to adulthood. The present study included target adolescent self-report data on warmth and hostility toward and received from their sibling over ten data points from ages 15 to 31. Target to sibling warmth decreased from ages 23 to 31, whereas sibling to target warmth increased in emerging adulthood and then decreased into adulthood. Both sibling to target and target to sibling hostility decreased in adolescence and emerging adulthood and then remained low and stable from emerging adulthood to adulthood. Target to sibling warmth at age 23 predicted lower levels of anxiety at age 41. Sibling to target warmth at age 23 also predicted lower levels of depressive symptoms. Target to sibling hostility at age 23 predicted anxiety and hostility in middle adulthood, whereas sibling to target hostility at age 23 predicted anxiety, depressive symptoms, and hostility. In addition, a slower decline in sibling to target hostility from ages 15 to 19 was associated with higher levels of anxiety at age 41. This study is one of the first to examine the quality of sibling relationships across developmental stages and exemplifies how relationship quality between siblings from adolescence to young adulthood can influence emotional distress into early midlife. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved).