Sibling Relationships as Opportunities for Development and Learning in Adulthood

Richard P. Lanthier and Andrew J. Campbell

in The Oxford Handbook of Reciprocal Adult Development and Learning

Second edition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736300
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Sibling Relationships as Opportunities for Development and Learning in Adulthood

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In this chapter we examine the nature of sibling relationships in adulthood. The relationships we have with our siblings are among the longest and potentially most important ones we have in our lives, yet are comparatively understudied in adulthood. Research indicates common constructs around which sibling relationships vary. Typically, assessments of adult siblings reflect the amount of warmth and conflict shown between the siblings. Research also shows that sibling relationships develop in a typical pattern: high-intensity relationships during the co-residential periods of childhood and adolescence; de-intensification of the relationship during the young and middle adult years; and re-intensification during the later adult years. We discuss how sibling relationships provide opportunities for both learning and development in six areas: alcohol use and abuse, inter-sibling support, divorce and remarriage, death, caring for aging parents, and mental health and disabilities. Future directions for the field are provided.

Keywords: siblings; substance use; divorce and remarriage; aging; mental health; disabilities

Article.  11023 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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