Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Project Topics

Addressing the Causes of Sibling Rivalry and Its Impact on Effective Interaction Among Adolescents

Addressing the Causes of Sibling Rivalry and Its Impact on Effective Interaction Among Adolescents

Addressing the Causes of Sibling Rivalry and Its Impact on Effective Interaction Among Adolescents

Chapter One

Purpose of the Study

The main objective of this study entails addressing the causes of sibling rivalry and its impact on effective interaction among adolescents. The specific objectives of this study include to:

  1. Investigate the primary causes of sibling rivalry among adolescents.
  2. Examine the impact of sibling rivalry on the quality of interaction among adolescent siblings.
  3. Identify and recommend strategies to promote positive interaction and reduce sibling rivalry among adolescents.



Conceptual Review

Sibling Relationships

Sibling relationships are complex and multifaceted, often serving as significant influencers in individuals’ lives (Faber & Mazlish, 2019). These relationships are characterized by a variety of roles, such as older siblings taking on protective roles or younger ones seeking guidance and support (Mota & Matos, 2021). The dynamics within sibling relationships can vary widely, ranging from close bonds and cooperation to rivalry and conflict (Minuchin, 2020). Understanding these dynamics is crucial as they evolve over time and significantly impact individuals’ emotional and social development.

The developmental stages of sibling relationships are marked by distinct characteristics and changes (Lamb & Sutton-Smith, 2020). During early childhood, siblings may engage in parallel play and mimic each other’s behaviours as they begin to establish connections (Andrade, 2021). As they move into adolescence, power dynamics and competition may become more pronounced, leading to potential conflicts and struggles for autonomy (Patterson, 2022). Understanding these developmental stages helps contextualize the nature of interactions and the challenges that may arise within sibling relationships.

Roles within sibling relationships often follow societal and familial expectations, but they can also be influenced by individual personalities and experiences (Gonzalez-DeHass et al., 2023). For example, the oldest sibling may assume a leadership role or caretaking responsibilities, while younger siblings may look up to their older counterparts for guidance (Defoe et al., 2021). These roles can shape the dynamics within the sibling unit, affecting communication patterns, conflict resolution strategies, and overall relationship quality.

Sibling relationships are also influenced by factors such as gender, birth order, and family structure (Bronfenbrenner, 2023). Cultural norms and expectations regarding sibling roles and responsibilities can further shape how siblings interact and perceive their relationships (Kim & Park, 2020). Understanding these contextual factors is essential for gaining a comprehensive view of sibling relationships and their impact on individuals’ development and well-being.

The nature of sibling relationships can vary widely, from close and supportive bonds to distant or strained connections (Conger et al., 2019). Factors such as parental favouritism, competition for resources, and differences in personality traits can contribute to the diversity of sibling dynamics (Wallace, 2021). Exploring these variations provides insights into the factors that contribute to positive or challenging sibling relationships.

Sibling relationships also play a significant role in shaping individuals’ social skills and emotional regulation abilities (Erginoğlu, 2021). Through interactions with siblings, individuals learn important social cues, negotiation skills, and conflict-resolution strategies (Woods-Jaeger et al., 2018). Positive sibling relationships can enhance emotional support networks and contribute to overall resilience, while strained relationships may lead to increased stress and emotional difficulties (Masten, 2021).

The dynamics of sibling relationships continue to evolve into adulthood, influencing aspects such as family cohesion and support systems (Ungar et al., 2023). Siblings often serve as sources of emotional support, companionship, and shared family history throughout life (Raffaelli, 1992). Understanding the enduring nature of sibling relationships provides insights into long-term family dynamics and the interconnectedness of sibling bonds with broader familial relationships.

Consequently, sibling relationships encompass a wide range of roles, dynamics, and developmental stages that significantly impact individuals’ social, emotional, and psychological development. By exploring the complexities within sibling relationships, researchers gain valuable insights into the factors that contribute to positive or challenging dynamics and their implications for individuals across the lifespan.




Research Philosophy

The research philosophy guiding this study is positivism, which emphasizes the objective and measurable aspects of phenomena in the context of sibling relationships and rivalry (Saunders et al., 2019). Positivism aligns with the quantitative research design adopted in this study, as it emphasizes the collection of empirical evidence and systematic data to test hypotheses and establish patterns in phenomena (Bell et al., 2019). In the positivist paradigm, researchers aim to uncover objective truths and causal relationships through rigorous observation and measurement (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). This approach is particularly suitable for studying sibling relationships and rivalry as it allows for the quantification of variables, statistical analysis, and generalization of findings to broader populations (Saunders et al., 2019).

The primary goal of positivism in this study is to generate objective knowledge about the factors influencing sibling rivalry and their impact on effective interaction among adolescents (Bell et al., 2019). By focusing on measurable variables such as the frequency of conflicts, communication patterns, and emotional responses within sibling relationships, positivism enables researchers to quantify these phenomena and draw meaningful conclusions (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). The emphasis on empirical evidence and systematic data collection is essential for establishing the reliability and validity of research findings, contributing to the credibility and generalizability of the study outcomes (Bernard & Ryan, 2019).

Moreover, positivism supports the use of structured research instruments such as surveys or questionnaires to collect data systematically from a large sample size (Saunders et al., 2019). This approach ensures that the data gathered are consistent, replicable, and suitable for quantitative analysis using statistical tools like SPSS (Tavakol & Dennick, 2021). Through quantitative analysis, researchers can identify correlations, trends, and significant factors contributing to sibling rivalry, providing insights into the dynamics of these relationships (Creswell & Creswell, 2018).

Furthermore, the positivist perspective acknowledges the importance of theory development and hypothesis testing in advancing knowledge within the field of family dynamics and adolescent development (Bell et al., 2019). By grounding the study in a positivist framework, researchers can formulate hypotheses about the relationships between variables related to sibling rivalry and test these hypotheses using empirical data (Saunders et al., 2019). This systematic approach contributes to theory-building efforts and enhances the theoretical understanding of sibling relationships and their impact on adolescents’ well-being (Frankfort-Nachmias et al., 2021).

Research Design

The selected research design for this study is a quantitative survey, characterized by the collection of data through structured questionnaires administered to participants (Saunders et al., 2019). This design is particularly appropriate for investigating the factors contributing to sibling rivalry due to its ability to gather numerical data that can be analyzed statistically to identify patterns and correlations (Bell et al., 2019).

Quantitative surveys offer several advantages in studying sibling relationships and rivalry. Firstly, they enable researchers to gather data from a large sample size efficiently, which enhances the generalizability of findings to broader populations (Charan & Biswas, 2019). In the context of this study, targeting a large sample size allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the prevalence and various aspects of sibling rivalry among adolescents (Sreedharan et al., 2019). Additionally, quantitative surveys facilitate the collection of structured data on specific variables related to sibling relationships, such as conflict frequency, communication styles, and emotional responses (Saunders et al., 2019).

The structured nature of the questionnaires in a quantitative survey ensures consistency in data collection across participants, minimizing biases and enhancing the reliability of the study’s findings (Pannucci & Wilkins, 2020). By employing standardized measurement tools and closed-ended questions, researchers can systematically capture information relevant to the study objectives (Saunders et al., 2019). Furthermore, the quantitative survey design allows for statistical analysis using software like SPSS, enabling researchers to examine relationships between variables, test hypotheses, and identify significant predictors of sibling rivalry (Tavakol & Dennick, 2021).

 Population of the Study

The target population for this study comprises 1200 respondents, specifically adolescents aged 12 to 18 years with at least one sibling. This population selection is justified by the focus on understanding sibling dynamics during adolescence, a crucial developmental stage where sibling rivalry often emerges. A large sample size enhances the generalizability of findings to a broader adolescent population.






Summary of Findings

The findings from the extensive research conducted on sibling rivalry and its impact on adolescent development reveal a nuanced understanding of the dynamics within familial relationships and their implications for individual well-being. Across various dimensions explored in the study, including causes, consequences, and potential interventions related to sibling rivalry, several key insights emerge.

Starting with the causes of sibling rivalry, the research indicates that differences in personality and temperament between siblings play a significant role in fostering rivalry. This is supported by the strong agreement (45.4%) among respondents that personality disparities contribute substantially to sibling conflicts. Additionally, competition for parental attention and resources emerges as another critical factor contributing to rivalry, as evidenced by the substantial agreement (52.8%) in Table 4.6. Such competition can lead to heightened tensions and conflicts, impacting the overall quality of sibling interactions.

Moreover, perceptions of favouritism or unequal treatment by parents are highlighted as triggers for sibling rivalry, with a majority (52.8%) strongly agreeing with this assertion (Table 4.7). This underscores the need for equitable parenting practices to foster harmonious sibling relationships. Limited space and shared belongings also emerge as potential catalysts for conflicts, as indicated by the significant agreement (45.4%) in Table 4.8. These findings collectively emphasize the multifaceted nature of sibling rivalry, influenced by various environmental and interpersonal factors within the family context.

The impact of sibling rivalry on emotional well-being and social development is a crucial aspect addressed in the study. It is evident from the findings that sibling rivalry can have detrimental effects on communication quality, with a majority (52.8%) strongly agreeing that it negatively impacts communication (Table 4.9). This communication breakdown can lead to increased hostility and resentment during interactions, as indicated by the substantial agreement (51.9%) in Table 4.10. Furthermore, the study reveals that sibling rivalry can hinder cooperation and collaboration among siblings, affecting their ability to engage positively with each other (Table 4.11). These findings underscore the importance of addressing rivalry dynamics to promote healthier familial interactions and individual socio-emotional development.

In terms of potential strategies to mitigate sibling rivalry, the study provides valuable insights. Encouraging open and honest communication emerges as a key approach, with a majority (52.8%) strongly agreeing on its efficacy (Table 4.13). Similarly, allocating equal attention and resources from parents to all siblings is seen as a crucial strategy to minimize rivalry, with significant agreement (45.4%) among respondents (Table 4.14). Implementing conflict resolution skills and mediation techniques also holds promise in reducing the occurrence and intensity of sibling rivalry, as indicated by the strong agreement (52.8%) in Table 4.15. Additionally, providing opportunities for shared activities and experiences is viewed positively in fostering positive interactions among siblings, with a majority (51.9%) strongly agreeing with this approach (Table 4.16).

The statistical analyses further validate these qualitative insights, demonstrating significant mean differences that support the hypotheses related to parental favouritism, the impact of rivalry on interaction quality, and the effectiveness of conflict resolution strategies (Table 4.17). These findings collectively highlight the need for holistic family interventions and support systems that promote positive sibling relationships, enhance communication skills, and equip adolescents with conflict resolution strategies to navigate familial challenges effectively.

Overall, the study’s comprehensive examination of sibling rivalry contributes significantly to understanding family dynamics and adolescent development, providing valuable insights for practitioners, policymakers, and families seeking to foster healthier relationships and promote positive socio-emotional outcomes among adolescents.


The findings from the hypotheses tested in this study provide valuable insights into the complex dynamics of sibling rivalry and its implications for adolescent development. Through rigorous statistical analyses and qualitative assessments, several key conclusions can be drawn.

Firstly, the rejection of the null hypothesis regarding the relationship between parental favouritism and sibling rivalry among adolescents indicates a significant association between these factors. The study underscores the importance of equitable parenting practices in fostering harmonious sibling relationships and reducing rivalry dynamics. Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in creating an environment that promotes fairness, equal attention, and resource allocation among siblings, thereby mitigating potential conflicts arising from perceived favouritism.

Secondly, the findings support the hypothesis that sibling rivalry hurts the emotional well-being and social development of adolescents. This conclusion aligns with existing literature highlighting the detrimental effects of ongoing conflicts and tensions between siblings. It emphasizes the need for interventions aimed at improving communication, and conflict resolution skills, and fostering collaboration among siblings to enhance their overall socio-emotional growth and well-being.

Lastly, the study’s results affirm the effectiveness of implementing conflict resolution strategies and promoting positive interactions to reduce the occurrence and intensity of sibling rivalry. Strategies such as encouraging open communication, providing opportunities for shared activities, and addressing underlying causes of rivalry can contribute significantly to creating a more supportive and cohesive family environment.

In conclusion, the outcomes of this study underscore the importance of family dynamics and parental roles in shaping sibling relationships and addressing rivalry issues among adolescents. By acknowledging and addressing these dynamics, families, educators, and practitioners can work towards fostering healthier and more positive sibling interactions, ultimately contributing to the holistic development and well-being of adolescents within the family context. Continued research and practical interventions in this area are essential for promoting harmonious family relationships and enhancing adolescent outcomes.

Implications of the Study

The implications of the study regarding sibling rivalry and its impact on adolescent development are multifaceted and extend to various stakeholders including families, educators, policymakers, and mental health professionals. The findings provide valuable insights that can inform interventions, policies, and practices aimed at promoting positive sibling relationships and enhancing the well-being of adolescents.

One significant implication of the study is the need for targeted interventions within families to address the root causes of sibling rivalry. The study’s findings highlight factors such as parental favouritism, competition for resources, and communication patterns as key contributors to rivalry among siblings. As such, family-focused interventions that emphasize equitable parenting practices, conflict resolution skills, and effective communication strategies are crucial. Educating parents and caregivers about the impact of their behaviours on sibling dynamics and providing them with tools to create a supportive and fair environment can lead to improved sibling relationships and reduced conflict.

Furthermore, the study’s implications extend to educational settings, emphasizing the role of schools and educators in supporting adolescents who may experience sibling rivalry-related stressors. Schools can incorporate social-emotional learning (SEL) programs that teach conflict resolution, empathy, and relationship-building skills. Educators can also be trained to recognize signs of sibling rivalry-related distress in students and provide appropriate support or referrals to mental health professionals when needed. By addressing these issues proactively within the educational context, schools can contribute to a positive school climate and better academic outcomes for students.

From a policy perspective, the study underscores the importance of considering family dynamics and sibling relationships in broader social policies related to child and adolescent well-being. Policymakers can support initiatives that promote parental education and support services aimed at strengthening family relationships. Additionally, policies that encourage mental health awareness and access to counselling services for families experiencing significant sibling rivalry-related challenges can have a positive impact on overall family functioning and resilience.

The study also has implications for mental health professionals and therapists working with adolescents and families. Understanding the dynamics of sibling rivalry and its potential effects on emotional well-being can guide therapeutic interventions. Therapists can help adolescents and their families explore and address underlying issues contributing to rivalry, develop coping strategies, and improve communication and conflict resolution skills. Family therapy approaches that focus on improving intra-family relationships and addressing systemic issues can be particularly effective in addressing sibling rivalry-related concerns.

Moreover, the study’s implications highlight the importance of ongoing research and collaboration across disciplines. Further research is needed to delve deeper into specific aspects of sibling relationships and rivalry, such as cultural influences, gender dynamics, and long-term outcomes into adulthood. Collaborative efforts between researchers, practitioners, and policymakers can lead to evidence-based interventions and policies that better support families and promote positive sibling interactions.


The following recommendations were proposed:

  1. Parental Education Programs: Develop and implement parental education programs that focus on promoting positive parenting practices, equitable treatment among siblings, effective communication strategies, and conflict resolution skills within the family.
  2. School-Based Interventions: Integrate social-emotional learning (SEL) programs in schools to teach students conflict resolution, empathy, and relationship-building skills. Provide training for educators to recognize signs of sibling rivalry-related stress and offer appropriate support or referrals.
  3. Policy Support: Advocate for policies that promote family well-being and address sibling rivalry-related issues. This may include initiatives that provide access to parental support services, mental health resources, and family counselling programs.
  4. Early Intervention: Encourage early intervention strategies to address sibling rivalry before conflicts escalate. This could involve regular assessments of family dynamics and the implementation of preventive measures to promote positive sibling relationships.
  5. Therapeutic Support: Ensure access to mental health professionals and family therapists who specialize in addressing sibling rivalry and family dynamics. Offer counselling services that focus on improving intra-family relationships, coping strategies, and communication skills.
  6. Community Resources: Establish community-based resources such as support groups for parents and siblings, workshops on conflict resolution and parenting skills, and peer support networks for adolescents experiencing sibling rivalry-related stress.
  7. Cultural Sensitivity: Recognize and respect cultural differences in family dynamics and sibling relationships. Tailor interventions and support services to be culturally sensitive and inclusive of diverse family structures and values.
  8. Research and Evaluation: Encourage ongoing research and evaluation of interventions aimed at addressing sibling rivalry and promoting positive sibling relationships. Collaborate with researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to identify best practices and continuously improve strategies for supporting families and adolescents

Contribution to Knowledge

This study contributes significantly to our understanding of sibling relationships and rivalry within the context of adolescent development and family dynamics. First and foremost, it sheds light on the nuanced factors contributing to sibling rivalry, including issues such as perceived parental favouritism, competition for attention and resources, and conflicts arising from shared spaces or belongings. By delving into these specific factors, the study adds depth to the existing literature, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamics at play within sibling relationships.

Furthermore, the study’s findings highlight the impact of sibling rivalry on various aspects of adolescent well-being, including emotional health, social interactions, and overall family cohesion. Through quantitative analysis and statistical testing, the research demonstrates the significant correlations between sibling rivalry and negative outcomes such as increased hostility, limited communication, and avoidance behaviours among siblings. These findings contribute empirical evidence to support the theoretical frameworks surrounding sibling relationships and their implications for adolescent development.

Moreover, this study’s exploration of strategies to mitigate sibling rivalry and promote positive interactions among siblings offers practical insights for interventions and support programs. By examining the effectiveness of conflict resolution strategies, open communication approaches, and equitable parental practices, the study provides actionable recommendations for parents, educators, and policymakers. These recommendations can inform the development of targeted interventions aimed at fostering healthier sibling dynamics and reducing conflict within families.

Additionally, the study’s methodological approach, including the use of surveys and statistical analysis, contributes to methodological advancements in researching family dynamics and interpersonal relationships. The application of quantitative methods allows for the systematic examination of large datasets, providing valuable insights into prevalence rates, trends, and correlations related to sibling rivalry. This methodological rigour enhances the reliability and validity of the study’s findings, contributing to the robustness of knowledge in this area.

Suggestions for Further Studies

Several avenues for further research emerge from this study’s findings and limitations, providing opportunities to deepen our understanding of sibling relationships and rivalry in adolescence. Firstly, future studies could adopt a longitudinal approach to examine the long-term effects of sibling rivalry on individuals’ psychological and social development. Longitudinal studies would allow researchers to track changes over time, including how sibling dynamics evolve and their impact on various life outcomes.

Secondly, qualitative research methods such as in-depth interviews or focus groups could complement quantitative data by providing nuanced insights into the subjective experiences of adolescents regarding sibling rivalry. Qualitative approaches can uncover underlying emotions, coping strategies, and familial dynamics not easily captured through quantitative surveys alone, offering a more holistic view of sibling relationships.

Additionally, exploring cultural variations in sibling relationships and rivalry would be a valuable area for further investigation. Cross-cultural studies can illuminate how cultural norms, values, and familial structures influence the manifestation and management of sibling rivalry, contributing to a more culturally sensitive understanding of these dynamics.

Furthermore, considering the role of technology and digital media in shaping sibling interactions and rivalry presents a relevant and timely area for future research. With the increasing use of digital platforms among adolescents, studying how technology impacts sibling relationships, communication patterns, and conflict resolution strategies can provide insights into contemporary family dynamics.

Lastly, interventions aimed at promoting positive sibling relationships and reducing rivalry could benefit from rigorous evaluation studies. Implementing and assessing the effectiveness of intervention programs, such as family counselling, communication workshops, or sibling support groups, can offer practical insights into best practices for improving familial dynamics and enhancing adolescent well-being.


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