“To Be, or Not to Be, That Is the Question”: Modeling and Differentiation Among Siblings Participating in Organized Youth Sport

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Weber State University
  • 2 Utah State University
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Organized youth sport is a relatively common family context in which sibling dynamics are not well understood. The present study was designed to address two contrasting mechanisms of socialization—modeling and differentiation—in examining older siblings’ influence on younger siblings’ sport participation. American youth (N = 221) age 10–15 years (M = 12.38, SD = 1.01) who were active sport participants completed an online survey measuring individual and family demographics, sibling relationship qualities, and parent–child relationship dimensions. The participants reported on their most proximal older siblings, all of whom were within 4 years of age. The analyses suggest that sibling differentiation dynamics decreased the likelihood of playing the same primary sport as an older sibling for (a) the same biological sex, close in age to siblings; (b) the same biological sex, further in age from siblings; and (c) mixed biological sex, wide in age from siblings. The “Discussion” section highlights the practical value of understanding the impact of sibling influence processes on the individual, sibling dyad, and family system.

Osai is with the Dept. of Child and Family Studies, Weber State University, Ogden, UT, USA. Dorsch and Whiteman are with the Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA.

Osai (keithosai@weber.edu) is corresponding author.
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