Physical violence and psychological abuse among siblings: a theoretical and empirical analysis

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Virginia Tech

This study develops and evaluates a theoretical model based on social learning, conflict, and feminist perspectives to explain teenage sibling physical violence and psychological abuse. Using regression analysis and data from 796 young adults, considerable support is found for all three theoretical approaches and suggests an integrated model best predicts acts of violence and abuse among siblings. For physical violence, males and brothers had significantly higher rates. Spousal verbal conflict, patriarchal attitudes towards the distribution of chores among siblings, attitudes approving of the use of physical force during an argument, and sibling verbal conflict were strongly related to sibling violence. For psychological abuse, neither gender nor sibling pair was significant. The most important predictors for abuse were a close maternal relationship, favoritism, parents yelling, sharing property I psychological stress, patriarchal attitudes towards chores, approval of violence, and sibling verbal conflict. The model explains considerably more of the variance in teenage sibling psychological abuse than physical violence, 42 percent and 32 percent respectively. Finally, the study provides directions for future research on sibling violence and abuse.

feminist theory, sibling violence, psychological abuse, family violence, social learning theory, conflict theory