Positive Indicators of Sibling Relationship Quality

Indicators of Positive Development Conference
March 12-13, 2003
Bureau of Labor Statistics Conference Center
Washington, DC


Positive Indicators of Sibling Relationship Quality: Psychometric Analyses of The Sibling Inventory of Behavior (SIB)

Brenda L. Volling and Alysia Y. Blandon, University of Michigan

Most people grow up in a family with at least one brother or sister. The relationship between siblings can be marked with rivalry and conflict, but can also be one of the closest and intimate relationships a person has in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood (Buhrmester & Furman, 1990; Volling, 2003). Unlike parent-child relationships and children’s peer relationships, there is far less empirical research devoted to the study of sibling relationships, although this has started to change considerably over the last decade (see Brody, 1998, for a review). Warm, nurturant, and close sibling relationships play an important role in the development of children’s social competence with peers, their ability to resolve conflicts in a constructive manner, and their social and emotional understanding (Dunn & Munn, 1985; Howe, 1991; Herrera & Dunn, 1997).

The current paper begins with a brief overview of the literature describing the various dimensions of sibling relationship quality and the research supporting the link between positive indicators of sibling relationship quality and children’s developmental outcomes, most notably, their social competence with peers and their psychological adjustment. We then move to examine the various means of measuring sibling relationship quality and summarize some of these measurement approaches before focusing specifically on the history and development of the Sibling Inventory of Behavior (SIB: Schaefer & Edgerton, 1981). This discussion will include a summary of the psychometric properties of the instrument as reported by those researchers who have modified and used the instrument over the last decade with samples of adolescents. We will then present analyses of the psychometric properties of the positive involvement scale of the SIB using data from a longitudinal investigation of preschool children before closing with a summary and discussion of the utility of this measure for inclusion in large-scale survey data sets.