Sibling Study: Sisters Spread Happiness
A recent study by the University of Ulster claims that having sisters makes people happy while brothers bring about distress in families.
Researchers quizzed 571 people aged 17 to 25 about their lives and found those who grew up with sisters were more likely to be happy and balanced.
The presence of daughters in families influences openess and willingness to discuss and share feelings. The study shows that the XX influence was "particularly important after distressing family events such as marital break-ups." The study included a psychological questionaire for participants to complete which was then used by researchers to evaluate issues ranging from mental health problems to the general outlook of the individual.
Lead researcher Professor Tony Cassidy said:"Sisters appear to encourage more open communication and cohesion in families.
"However, brothers seemed to have the alternative effect.
"Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families." With many of the participants in the study coming from families where the parents divorced, the impact of sisters was even more apparent.
"Boys tend to internalise problems and in families where there are lots of sons, I can see that can cause problems."
For those without siblings the study showed that only children "tended to score in the middle range for happiness and optimism."
Liz Wright, the co-author of the study, said: "With only children we found that they had lots of strong communication outside of the home. It appears that they have as much social support as those with siblings, but it does not come from within the family."
The study is to be presented at the British Psychological Society's annual meeting in Brighton on April 2, 2009.