Conflict in sibling relationships, an analysis of the relationship of demands and resources to psychological distress

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Hutton, Kelly
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Sibling interactions are among the most enduring and important influences for many people. Unfortunately, these relationships are often characterized by conflict which may continue into adulthood. This study explored the relationship of sibling conflict to psychological distress using a transactional model of the stress process. The five independent variables of this model can be classified as either demands (i.e., sibling conflict and daily hassles) or resources (i.e., self-esteem, social support, and approach coping). The relationship between each variable and distress (i.e., both psychological and somatic symptoms of distress) was assessed separately. Participants completed a self-report questionnaire consisting of eight sections measuring: (a) sibling conflict, (b) daily hassles, (c) self-esteem, (d) approach coping, (e) social support, (f) psychological distress, (g) somatic distress, and (h) demographic information. Of the 410 participants recruited, 258 were chosen, based on a cut-off score of 2.25 on sibling conflict, to make-up the subsample. This cut-off score was chosen to ensure higher levels of sibling conflict and to reduce restriction of range problems. All tests of hypotheses were performed using the subsample. It was hypothesized that the demands would be positively related to distress while the resources would be negatively related to distress. The hypotheses were confirmed for all of the variables except Approach coping. Further, multiple regression analyses were used to assess the joint contribution of demands, as well as resources, as they relate to distress. Analyses revealed that the combination of demands (i.e., sibling conflict and daily hassles) did not improve upon the individual contributions of the variables. The combination of resources explained more of the variance than any of the resource variables alone. There was support for the proposed stress process model.