The Sibling Experience: A Comparative Study of Relationship and Birth Order Factors in Predicting Personality Characteristics

Elizabeth Bergmann-Harms

This thesis has been withdrawn as it is a duplicate, the original can be found here:


The two purposes of this research were: (1) to develop an instrument, the Sibling Relationship Questionnaire (SRQ) to measure retrospectively childhood feelings towards siblings and (2) to assess the power of the SRQ in statistical prediction of personality characteristics, as measured by the California Psychological Inventory (CPI). The predictive power of the SRQ was compared by multivariate analyses to that of birth order variables. The principal personality features investigated were need for achievement, need for affiliation, conformity, sociability, and sex-role orientation

In Study 1 a pool of items regarding childhood sibling relationships was submitted to a sample of 255 undergraduate student s (75 males and 180 females) and was factor analyzed. The six factor scales derived were Companionship, Loyalty, Hostility, Identification, Caretaking, and Rivalry. The items composing these scales were used to construct the SRQ. In Study 2 the SRQ was administered to a sample of 141 undergraduate students (70 males and 73 females along with the CPI and a questionnaire designed to obtain demographic and birth order variables.

The six-factor structure of the SRQ was Cross validated in Study 2 . Most powerful of the SRQ scales in predicting personality were Hostility and Rivalry being positively related to need for achievement and conformity. Hostility was positively related to social tolerance, but negatively to sociability. Rivalry interacted with birth order variables in predicting sex-role orientation. Subject's sex was a powerful role predictor of personality, with females higher in need for achievement, conformity, sociability, and feminine sex-role orientation. Among birth order variables, sex of the closest-in-age sibling had significant predictive positive power, as did number of younger sisters and brothers, Generally, SRQ scales were more highly associated with need for achievement than were birth order variables, which were better predictors of need for affiliation and sex-role orientation. A further important finding was that sibling loss was negatively related to need, for achievement and sociability, but positively related to need for affiliation. The importance of examining in future, research both the emotional components of sibling relationships and the total sibling structure of the family is discussed.