Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 12, pp 4025–4032 | Cite as

Parental criticism moderates sibling influence on proactive and reactive aggression

  • Andrew L. FrazerEmail author
  • Paula J. Fite
  • Katie J. Stone
  • Jayne Clinkenbeard
Original Paper


Siblings’ influence on youth aggressive behavior has been found in previous studies, but further research is needed in order to better understand both the shared relations between siblings’ levels of proactive and reactive subtypes of aggression as well as the factors contributing to this relationship, such as parent behavior. The current study extended the literature by examining the influence of older siblings’ proactive and reactive aggression on younger siblings and whether these associations were influenced by levels of observed parental criticism. Participants were 50 parent–child dyads. Children in each dyad (52% female; 76% Caucasian) were between the ages of 10 and 15 (M = 11.52; SD = 1.25). Parent-reported measures of their younger and older siblings’ proactive and reactive aggression were collected. Next, parents and the younger child engaged in a conversation task which was coded for parental criticism using a modified version of the Family Interaction Task. Results demonstrated that older siblings’ reactive aggression was positively associated with younger siblings’ reactive aggression and that the strength of this influence depended on levels of parental criticism (β = 0.21; SE = 0.10; p 0.00), such that stronger sibling influence was observed at greater levels of parental criticism. No influence of older siblings’ levels of proactive aggression was evident. Findings suggest that the degree of parental criticism is particularly salient when examining the association between siblings’ aggression.


Parenting Reactive aggression Siblings Parental criticism 


Author Contributions

A.F. contributed to the conceptual design of the study, ran the data analyses, and wrote the paper. P.F. coordinated data collection, contributed to the conceptual design of the study, and collaborated in writing and editing of the final manuscript. K.S. collaborated in writing and editing of the final manuscript. J.C. collaborated in writing and editing of the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board of the University of Kansas and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew L. Frazer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paula J. Fite
    • 1
  • Katie J. Stone
    • 1
  • Jayne Clinkenbeard
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinical Child Psychology ProgramUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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