Sisters are the worse, right? They steal your clothes, embarrasses you in public and even copy everything you do. We’d be happier without them!
Or would we? According to research by The De Montfort University in Leicester and Ulster University in Ireland having a sister actually makes you both happier and more optimistic.
The universities had participants, aged between 17 and 25, fill in questionnaires that looked at their mental health and their outlook on life. Although only 571 people were surveyed they found a correlation between having a sister and being happy.
The researchers believe this link is because having a sister encourages you to be more open and learn to be better at communicating your feelings. They believe that both of these things play a positive role in regards to your mental health.
One of the researchers, Professor Tony Cassidy, has said:
“Sisters appear to encourage more open communication and cohesion in families.
However, brothers seem to have the alternative effect.
Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families.
It could be that boys have a natural tendency not to talk about things.
With boys together it is about a conspiracy of silence not to talk. Girls tend to break that down.”
The professor also maintains that these differences were even more pronounced in families where the parents had divorced.
“I think these findings could be used by people offering support to families and children during distressing times.
We may have to think carefully about the way we deal with families with lots of boys”
A comparable study was done at Brigham Young University, which looked at 395 families with multiple children, also found that having a sister also tends to make you a kinder person.
It adds that having brothers also brings you benefits as long as the relationship is more loving than fighting.
ABC lead researcher, Laura Padilla-Walker said on the topic:
“Sibling affection from either gender was related to less delinquency and more pro-social behaviours like greater kindness and generosity, volunteering and helping others”
On the other hand, a joint study between the Universities of Oxford, Warwick and UCL found that children who reported to being bullied by their siblings several times a week or more early in their childhood were twice as likely to to be clinically depressed and self-harm as young adults.
Lead author Dr Lucy Bowes said:
“Forms of bullying where victims are shoved around the playground or targeted at work have been well documented, however, this study uncovers a largely hidden form of bullying. Victims of sibling bullying are offered little escape as sibling relationships endure throughout development.
‘We are not talking about the sort of teasing that often goes on within families, but incidents that occur several times a week, in which victims are ignored by their brothers or sisters, or are subjected to verbal or physical violence.”