We investigated children’s personal representations of significant sibling conflicts. Forty pairs of siblings were interviewed separately about the same disputes. Although they described the same episodes, both older (M age = 7.0) and younger (M age = 4.4) siblings ascribed more serious transgressions to their opponents than to themselves. They also justified and denied their own severe transgressions more frequently than their siblings’ offenses. Overall, children were systematically biased in favor of their own innocence, and older siblings were more self-serving in their use of justifications than their younger siblings. The number and complexity of justifications increased with siblings’ age, whereas denials were more frequently relied upon by younger siblings. It is suggested that investigations of children’s unique conflict representations represent an important complement to observational studies of sibling conflict.
Wilson, Anne E.; Smith, Melissa D.; Ross, Hildy S.; and Ross, Michael
"Young Children’s Personal Accounts of
Their Sibling Disputes,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 50:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol50/iss1/5