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Competing Processes of Sibling Influence: Observational Learning and Sibling Deidentification


Shawn D. Whiteman, Department of Child Development and Family Studies, Purdue University, 101 Gates Road, West Lafayette, IN, 47907–2020. Email:


Although commonly cited as explanations for patterns of sibling similarity and difference, observational learning and sibling deidentification processes have rarely been examined directly. Using a person-oriented approach, we identified patterns in adolescents' perceptions of sibling influences and connected these patterns to sibling similarities and differences and sibling relationship qualities. Participants included two adolescent-age siblings (firstborn age M = 16.39, second-born age M = 13.78) from 171 maritally intact families. Two-stage cluster analyses revealed three sibling influence profiles: modeling, deidentification, and non-reference. Analyses revealed differences in the correlations between firstborn and second-born siblings' personal qualities across the three groups and differences in the sibling relationship qualities of younger siblings who reported modeling vs. those who reported deidentifying from their older siblings. Discussion focuses on refining the study of sibling influence processes.