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Relationship Quality Among Half Siblings: the Role of Childhood Co-residence


It is argued that the childhood co-residence duration is one of the most important kin detection mechanisms among siblings and thus should influence the relationship quality between them. Using data from the German Family Panel (Pairfam) sibling module, we detect whether childhood co-residence predicts relationship quality (as indicated by the contact frequency and emotional closeness) among adult half siblings. Individuals who have co-resided with their half siblings during childhood report a better relationship quality with these siblings compared to individuals who have not co-resided with half siblings. Among individuals who have co-resided for most of their childhood with half siblings, the relationship quality is better in same-sex dyads than opposite-sex dyads. Finally, no difference in relationship quality was detected between full and half siblings in cases in which they lived together during their childhood. These findings indicate that childhood co-residence tends to regulate relationship quality among adult half siblings.

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The presented analyses are based on data from the German Family Panel (Pairfam), release 7.0 (Brüderl et al. 2016). A detailed description of the study can be found in Huinink et al. (2011). The German Family Panel Pairfam is coordinated by Josef Brüderl, Karsten Hank, Johannes Huinink, Bernhard Nauck, Franz Neyer, and SabineWalper. Pairfam is funded as a longterm project by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

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Correspondence to Antti O. Tanskanen.

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Tanskanen, A.O., Danielsbacka, M. Relationship Quality Among Half Siblings: the Role of Childhood Co-residence. Evolutionary Psychological Science 5, 13–21 (2019).

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  • Childhood co-residence
  • Half siblings
  • Kin detection