Adolescent siblings' evaluations of the self and their relationship
Vandergoot, Mary Ellen
Power and intimacy motive scores of pairs of adolescent siblings from the same family were obtained utilizing a thematic apperceptive measure administered under neutral arousal conditions and coded for motivational content by trained judges. The motive scores of individual siblings were associated with the scores from several measures specific to qualities of the sibling relationship. The relationship-specific variables included other-reported dominance and nurturance, relational themes of agency and communion in interview data and autobiographical memories, and global evaluations of the positiveness of the sibling relationship. Furthermore, the association between siblings' global self-worth and other-reported interpersonal dominance and nurturance was evaluated. Consistent with theory, qualities of sibling relationships, whether conceived as other-reported dominance and nurturance or as relational themes of agency and communion in the interview data, predicted the positiveness of relationship quality. However, compared to relational agency and communion, other-reported interpersonal dominance and nurturance accounted for twice as much of the variance in relationship quality. Furthermore, other-reported interpersonal nurturance and perceived self-worth played key roles in explaining the correspondences between siblings' motive dispositions and the positiveness of the relationship. Based on the preliminary evidence, some of the direct impact of interpersonal nurturance on the positiveness of the relationship is mediated by siblings' perceived self-worth. The implications of the results are discussed with respect to the role of views of the self, other, and self-in-relation in understanding adolescent sibling relationships. The centrality of interpersonal nurturance and global self-worth in the present study suggested that the interdependency of views of the self and the other in sibling relationships is worthy of further study. The peripheral role of motive dispositions in propelling the qualities of the relationships sampled in the present study pointed to the need for alternate conceptual models. Those models which address how motive dispositions may combine with other individual characteristics to influence relationship qualities and which explore other motive dispositions were highlighted. Finally, the implications of the study for the generation of methodologies which preserve the integrity and organization of both the individual sibling and the sibling dyad in social context were evaluated.