Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Child Development

First Advisor

Dahlia F. Stockdale


Children's perceptions of their sibling relationship with older siblings were explored in a sample of 106 4- and 5-year-old children using the interview method. Four groupings of siblings were targeted for this study: younger males with older brothers, younger males with older sisters, younger females with older brothers, and younger females with older sisters. A sibling interview and maternal rating scale were developed by the researcher to investigate sibling perceptions. Interview responses were divided into thought units and subsequently judged according to the following categories: intimacy/affection, prosocial, companionship, aggression, antagonism, dominance, irrelevant, general positive and general negative. Mothers rated the sibling relationship on similar categories. Differences among the four groups were examined as a function of the age and sex groupings. In addition, maternal perceptions of the sibling relationship as well as the relationship among maternal and child perceptions were explored. Results of MANOVA analysis indicated that younger children were more likely to attribute intimacy/affection to their older siblings. Two trends emerged from the data regarding children's responses. Children with older sisters were more likely to describe their siblings in a general positive manner than children with older brothers. Younger 4- and 5-year-old children with male siblings and older 4- and 5-year-old children with female siblings tended to view their siblings as companions more than other children. MANOVA results on the maternal data revealed that older 4- and 5-year-old children with female siblings were reported by mothers as receiving higher levels of companionship from their older siblings than other groups. Maternal and child perceptions were not significantly correlated. A factor analysis revealed the emergence of a "good" and a "bad" factor; the two factors were not significantly correlated. Even though the amount of "good" things and "bad" things a child says about his/her sibling are reliably measured, these two traits were independent. From the results of this study, it appears that the interview method may be limited in its effectiveness as a tool in assessing young children's perceptions regarding their siblings.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Judith Bell Bray



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

133 pages