Empirical Research

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 860-874

First online:

Adolescent Siblings’ Looking Glass Self-Orientations: Patterns of Liabilities and Associations with Parenting

  • Wendy C. GambleAffiliated withFamily Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona Email author 
  • , Jeong Jin YuAffiliated withThe Pennsylvania State University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


A looking glass self-orientation refers to the tendency to incorporate the opinions of social partners to form a self-representation and approve of one’s self. These orientations were assessed for two adolescent siblings in 438 families with surveys accessed on-line. Younger (M = 11.6 years, SD = 1.8) and older (M = 14.3, SD = 2.1) siblings and their mothers (82.7% European-American) participated. The siblings shared similar orientations in relying on either classmates or the other sibling for approval, prior to self approval. Relying on classmate approval was significantly associated with adjustment and academic performance as reported by both the self and mothers. Siblings were also identified as sources of approval with implications for adjustment, but the magnitude of the associations with adjustment were lower. Comparisons of the older and younger siblings revealed that both groups were equally as liable to poor outcomes when reflecting the opinions of classmates or siblings. The results of SEM analyses implicate parenting characterized as coercive, rejecting, and chaotic in association with the tendency to rely on others for approval. A mediating role for looking glass self-orientations in associations between parenting and depressive symptoms, anxiety or academic performance was also found.


Sibling relationships Self-representations Looking glass self-orientations or metatheories Parenting Adjustment Academic performance