AdvisorButler, Emily A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn this dissertation, I examine the mediating and moderating effects of sibling and peer relationship quality on the association between parent-child relationship quality and adult romantic relationship quality. The first chapter focuses on exploring family systems and attachment theories as they interact to help understand the dynamics and interrelatedness of parent, sibling, peer, and romantic relationships. This theoretical approach is then used in the subsequent chapters. The remaining chapters introduce and analyze data from the Iowa Youth and Families Project (IYFP), a division of the Family Transitions Project. This project began in 1989 gathering data on Iowa families, and proceeded to become a nearly 20-year study. In the second chapter, a brief history of the initiation of the IYFP, acquisition of the data, the data collection process, and details of the sample are included. This chapter also includes explanations for the waves of data selected to be analyzed, as well as the variables used to measure parent-child, sibling, peer, and romantic relationship quality. Chapter 3 examines how the association between parent-child relationship quality and romantic relationship quality is mediated by sibling and peer relationship quality. Parent-child relationships have been clearly linked with adult romantic relational behavior (Fraley & Davis, 1997; Hazan & Shaver, 1987), yet this association is likely mediated through children experimenting with their internal working models in peer and sibling relationships. Internal working models, a core tenet of attachment theory, refer to one’s view of others as reliable (or not) and view of self as worthy of love (or not). Internal working models may directly influence adults, but a central argument of this chapter is that much of this influence is likely mediated by how the internal working models are utilized in earlier relationships, such as peer and sibling relationships. Specifically, a mediation model embodies the hypothesis that people’s attachment to parents may be correlated with their attachment to romantic partners, but only if they had a similar attachment with siblings or peers. In other words, this association would be mediated through experimentation and solidification of the attachment behaviors and perspectives within sibling and peer relationships. Results of a structural equation model, using data from the IYFP, show that sibling relationship quality mediated the associations between parent-child and romantic relationship quality as predicted. Although the effects were generally small, the results suggest that higher parent-child relationship quality was associated with higher quality sibling relationships, which in turn was significantly associated with higher quality of romantic relationships. Peer relationship quality did not significantly mediate the association between parents and peers. The fourth chapter examines whether the association between parent-child relationship quality and romantic relationship quality is moderated by sibling and peer relationship quality. This chapter builds upon the foundation of the previous chapters to examine the case of individuals whose relationships with siblings and peers differed from those experienced in infancy with parents. This path may illustrate how people with insecure internal working models during infancy are able to compensate through secure attachment with siblings or peers. Conversely, a child with secure attachment to parents in early life may, through pervasive insecure attachment experiences with siblings or peers, begin to be less secure in attachment relationships. The results of moderation modeling with data from the IYFP did not support my hypotheses. Neither sibling nor peer relationship quality moderated the association between parent and romantic relationship quality. The concluding chapter discusses interpretations and the potential impact of the results. My central finding was that sibling relationship quality significantly mediated the association between parent-child and romantic relationship quality. The failure of peer quality to mediate or moderate, as well as sibling quality’s failure to moderate the parent partner association strengthens the case for sibling mediation. These results suggest that the sibling relationship in adolescence impacts a person’s future relationships. These findings may assist individuals, families, and others, while providing justification for continued and extended research on the impacts of sibling relationships. All roads may, indeed, “lead to the Emerald City”, but I believe that the path is worthy of exploration, not just the destination. Each of the five chapters, from the multi-dimensional theoretical view of family systems and attachment to the mediation and moderation analyses work together to increase knowledge and relevance of parent, peer, romantic, and especially sibling relationships.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Family & Consumer Sciences