Video: Sibling rivalry a mix of conflict and close feelings

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Susan McHale, professor of human development and director of Penn State's Social Science Research Institute, spoke on "Sibling Wars: Why Brothers and Sisters Fight (And What to Do About It!)" at a recent Research Unplugged event in downtown State College. In this video excerpt from her presentation, McHale tells a story about aggression between a brother and sister in order to illustrate the unique nature of sibling relationships that can include both conflict and closeness.

Along with her Penn State colleagues, including senior scientist Mark Feinberg, McHale designed and conducted an intervention program titled the "Siblings Are Special" (or SIBS) project to better understand the connection between sibling relations and behavior in children and identify ways to improve family relationships. The program involved the participation of 174 Pennsylvania families and included games, discussions, reading material, role-playing exercises and art projects, all of which took place during 12 after-school sessions.

McHale and colleagues found that the siblings who were exposed to the program showed more self-control and social confidence, performed better in school, and showed fewer depressive symptoms and other internalizing problems, than the siblings in the control group.

This research has been published in professional journals and has garnered national attention and praise.

Research Unplugged presentations are held from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on six consecutive Thursdays during the spring and fall semesters in the Schlow Centre Region Library's Downsbrough Community Room in State College. They are free and open to all, with complimentary free refreshments, and are sponsored by Penn State University Relations and the Office of the Vice President for Research, in cooperation with Schlow Centre Region Library.

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Last Updated March 28, 2013