Sisters spread joy while brothers breed distress

April 2nd, 2009 - 11:34 am ICT by ANI  

London, Apr 2 (ANI): You might hate your sister for keeping the telephone busy all day and irking you with her ‘beauty treatments’, but a new study has found that girls in the family spread happiness.

However, when it comes to boys, they are not such a big treat, says the study, which claims that brothers breed distress.

According to a research of 571 families, which comprised of brothers, sisters, a mixture of both and only children, having a sister in the home leads to siblings of either sex scoring more highly on a range of standard tests for good mental health.

Also, they are better at coping with setbacks, more highly motivated and have a better social life than those who grow up with just brothers, the study by psychologists at De Montfort University and the University of Ulster found.

Liz Wright, research fellow at De Montfort, said the study began after a previous project showed that girls with sisters appeared to suffer less distress when they encountered trouble in their lives.

“We wanted to see if the positive impact of sisters went further than just girls and found that it did. One of the most interesting findings was the impact of female siblings when parents split up,” The Times quoted her, as saying.

“It seems their natural inclination was to express themselves, talk about the separation and encourage other family members to do so as well. It seems to help keep family relationships going. Their was markedly less distress in broken homes with a sister,” she added.

Scientists have long reckoned that “emotional expression” at times of upheaval, is fundamental to good psychological health.

“Sisters appear to encourage that. However, brothers seemed to have the opposite effect, perhaps discouraging others to talk,” Wright said.

The study comprised of tests, which used a standard scoring method and covered how much social support people felt they had, how much control over their lives they felt they had, levels of optimism, achievement motivation, or drive, and ability to cope with setbacks.

The researchers said the difference when a sister was in the home were “significant”.

The research will be presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Brighton. (ANI)

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