Open Access
Doughty, Susan Elizabeth
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 20, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Susan Mc Hale, Thesis Advisor
  • adolescent romantic relationships
  • sibling relationships
This study examined the links between sibling experiences in early adolescence and romantic relationship formation and qualities in later adolescence. Using two waves of longitudinal data from a sample of 203 White middle and working class families, we focused on relationship data from firstborn adolescents (N = 177; mean firstborn age at Time 1 = 16.46 years SD = .79; firstborn age at Time 2 = 18.38 years SD = .78). In home interviews, adolescents reported on their sibling relationships (intimacy, conflict, and control) at Wave 1and on their romantic relationship experiences (competence, intimacy, power, and relationship formation) at Wave 2. Sibling dyad gender constellation (same, mixed gender) and firstborns’ gender were included as potential moderators of links between sibling relationship characteristics and later romantic relationship qualities. Siblings from mixed-gender sibling pairs were no more likely to have formed romantic relationships than their peers from same-gender sibling dyads, but self reports of romantic competence were significantly lower for girl-girl sibling pairs than boy-boy sibling pairs, with mixed-gender sibling pairs scoring in between and different from neither. Sibling intimacy in early adolescence predicted romantic power and intimacy in later adolescence, sibling conflict predicted romantic intimacy, and sibling control predicted both romantic power and romantic intimacy. Adolescent gender moderated the relation between sibling conflict and romantic intimacy such that the negative relationship between romantic intimacy and sibling conflict that was present for girls was not present for boys. In addition, sibling dyad gender constellation moderated the relation between sibling control and romantic power such that a significant positive relationship between sibling conflict and romantic power was observed for mixed-gender dyads but not for same-gender dyads. Implications of the findings, as well as directions for future research, are discussed.