December 12, 2012
Did you know that about 80% of individuals that have siblings spend at least one third of their life with their sibling or siblings? (Myers, page 309) That is a significant amount of time to spend with someone. Our group wanted to research how siblings communicate and how gender or age can affect this communication. As researchers, we felt that this topic was important to study because so much of our lives are spent with another. We wanted to look at a number of different areas; first, we wanted to know if same sex sibling dyads communicated more than opposite gender siblings. We also wanted to know if siblings with at least one female in the relationship affect communication, if conflict is based on gender, and if age affects all of these types of communication. The purpose of our study is to examine exactly how different siblings communicate and how they handle conflict.
Communication is a skill that starts development from the day a person is born. Our interactions with those around us, and how they interact help us to develop our own unique styles of communication. Children are easily influenced by the people in their live and often times their closest relationships have the biggest impact on their actions. That being said, one of the most prominent relationships a child may have is with a sibling. An older sibling may help a younger sibling learn how to speak, and interact with others the same age, which at the same time is helping an older sibling learn how to communicate their thoughts and feelings. The sibling relationship starts young, and usually last an entire lifetime. There are few other relationships that develop and grow for this amount of time. We have decided to explore this amazing relationship, and test exactly what makes these relationships similar or different from family to family. We are specifically going to look at the gender within sibling relationships, to see how this affects the development of communication. By comparing same sex female, same sex male, and opposite sex siblings we hope to see some patterns relating to gender. Definitions:
Our research is focusing on the communication in sibling relationships. First, we should explain what we are referring to when discussing communication. Communication is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” (Hacker, 2011) When we explore communication between siblings we will be including phone conversations, emails, texts, letters, face-to-face meetings, and any other forms that include the exchange of information between the siblings. In addition to communication, we will also focus some of our research on conflict in communication. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines conflict as “mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands.” (Hacker, 2011) We will include arguments, physical fights, jealousy, and anger towards each other in our conflict research. Throughout the following discussion the concept of a ‘sibling dyad’ should be known as the relationship between two specific siblings and does not include other family members. One of the aspects of sibling relationships depends upon their self-disclosure with one another. Scott A Myers defines self-disclosure as “any information about a person that is communicated verbally to another person about past events, current feelings and attitudes, and future plans.” (Myers, 1998, p311) This characteristic in sibling relationships is important because it indicates ones feelings of trust in another. Similarities Among Previous Studies:
In previous studies, self-disclosure, contact, and relationship maintenance have been especially noticed in sister-sister dyads. Craig Fowler, an assistant professor in...
References: Campione-Barr, N., & Smetana, J.G. (2010). “Who Said You Could Wear My Sweater?” Adolescent Siblings’ Conflicts and Associations with Relationship Quality. Child Development, 81(2), 464-471. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Fowler, C. (2009). Motives for Sibling Communication Across the Lifespan. Communication Quarterly, 57(1), 51-66. doi:10.1080/01463370802662499
Hacker. 2011. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved May 8, 2011, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hacker
Myers, S. A. (1998). Sibling Communication Satisfaction as a Function of Interpersonal Solidarity, Individualized Trust, and Self-Disclosure. Communication Research Reports, 15(3), 309-317. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Myers, Scott A., and Ronda L. Knox. (1998) Percieved Sibling use of Functional Communication Skills. Communication Research Reports 15, n.p. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Rocca, K. A., Martin, M. M., & Dunleavy, K. (2010). Sibling’s motives for talking to each other. Journal of Psychology, 144(2) 205-219. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Spitze, G., & Trent, K. (2006). Gender Differences in Adult Sibling Relations in Two-Child Families. Journal Of Marriage & Family, 68(4), 977-992. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Widmer, E. D. (1997). Influence of Older Siblings on Initiation of Sexual Intercourse. Journal Of Marriage & Family, 59(4), 928-938. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
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