Research shows sister relationships ‘more positive’ than any other sibling bond

If you have a great relationship with your sister, you're not the only one, as a recent study has found

(Image credit: Alamy)

According to a recent study, relationships between sisters can be more rewarding and more positive than any other bonds between siblings.

Often, siblings are the people we know for the longest time in our lives. Sibling rivalry is common – particularly among children – and we’ll often talk about things like eldest daughter syndrome and whether there’s an ideal age gap between siblings, but sibling relationships can be among the most rewarding, too. 

However, there’s no sibling bond more positive than the one between sisters – if new research is anything to go by, that is. 

Most prior research on siblings has found that conflict decreases and intimacy increases as siblings get older and move out of the nuclear family home, but there hasn’t been a lot of research on whether these patterns differ by sibling gender and position in the family. 

So, researchers from Pennsylvania State University took a look at a study of 201 families that began in 1995 and continued across 18 years, with 61 families remaining at the end. Participants were asked a range of questions over time, asking questions like “How much do you share your inner feelings or secrets with [sibling]?” and “How often do you feel mad or angry at your sister/brother?” 

Findings indicated increases in intimacy and decreases in conflict, as expected, but it wasn’t always linear. Intimacy would decline until adolescence, before increasing and then levelling off in early adulthood, and the opposite was the case for conflict. 

Interestingly, the pattern was more “curvy” for sisters than brothers, but overall the sister pairings were more positive. Intimacy may well level off when sisters begin to start their own families or focus on their careers, but it’s evident from the research that sister relationships are – in general – the warmest sibling bond. 

In other family news, here are the 13 traits experienced by adults who were lonely children, according to a psychologist, while the myths of only children have been debunked. Meanwhile, if you think you’re the favourite child, you might be right, but you’re probably not.

Freelance writer

Adam is an experienced writer who regularly covers the royal family and celebrity news for the likes of Goodto, The List, The Metro, and Entertainment Daily. However, you can also find Adam covering relationships, mental health, pet care, and contributing to titles such as Creative Bloq.