Empirical Research

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 687-697

First online:

Similarities and Differences in Adolescent Siblings’ Alcohol-Related Attitudes, Use, and Delinquency: Evidence for Convergent and Divergent Influence Processes

  • Shawn D. WhitemanAffiliated withDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies, Purdue University Email author 
  • , Alexander C. JensenAffiliated withDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies, Purdue University
  • , Jennifer L. MaggsAffiliated withDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University

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A growing body of research indicates that siblings influence each other’s risky and deviant behaviors during adolescence. Guided by research and theory on sibling similarities and differences, this study examined the operation and implications of three different influence processes—social learning, shared friends, and sibling differentiation—during adolescence. Participants included one parent and two adolescent siblings (earlier born age: M = 17.17 years, SD = 0.94; later born age: M = 14.52 years, SD = 1.27) from 326 families. Data were collected via telephone interviews. Using reports from both older and younger siblings, two-stage cluster analyses revealed three influence profiles: mutual modeling and shared friends, younger sibling admiration, and differentiation. Additional analyses revealed that mutual modeling and shared friends as well as younger sibling admiration were linked to similarities in brothers’ and sisters’ health-risk behaviors and attitudes, whereas differentiation processes were associated with divergence in siblings’ characteristics. The discussion focuses on refining the study of sibling influence, with particular attention paid to the operation and implications of both convergent and divergent influence processes.


Adolescence Alcohol use Delinquency Modeling Sibling differentiation Siblings Social learning