Correlates of sibling jealousy and parental favoritism

Catherine Gray Deering, University of Rhode Island


This study explores selected situational, relationship, and personality variables in sibling jealousy among college students (n = 320). The research is based on a blend of social psychological and family systems theory, building on recent advances in romantic jealousy research. Vignettes portraying sibling and parent-initiated comparison situations were used as a projective technique to elicit sibling jealousy. Results indicate that parent-initiated comparisons produced significantly more jealousy than simple sibling comparisons. Sibling-initiated jealousy was significantly higher in domains of higher relevance or importance to the sample. Comparisons in physical attractiveness, social competence, and athletic achievement produced the highest levels of sibling jealousy. More triangulation, higher intimacy with parents, more conflictual family atmosphere, lower sibling warmth, and coming from a non-intact family predicted higher levels of sibling rivalry and jealousy. Lower personal authority within the family system, higher intergenerational intimidation, more triangulation, lower sibling warmth, more positive family atmosphere, having same sex siblings, and being higher in the birth order predicted higher levels of sibling conflict. Investigation of differences among participants identifying themselves as favorites, non-favorites, and neutrals in their own families revealed that favorites had significantly higher levels of self-esteem than non-favorites. Non-favorites had significantly lower levels of personal authority within the family system than favorites and neutrals. The results are discussed with implications for further research and practice. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Catherine Gray Deering, "Correlates of sibling jealousy and parental favoritism" (1991). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9203213.