Brothers and Sisters Stop DivorcesIt seems like every day psychological data is dissected, trying to get to the bottom of why relationships flourish or falter. A new study, conducted by Ohio State University researchers, claims that having several brothers and sisters stops divorces. In fact, it contends, the more siblings you have, the less likely you and your spouse will head to Splitsville.
According to the study, presented to the American Sociological Association in New York last month, each sibling a person has reduces the likelihood of divorce by a whopping two percent. The Buckeye researchers collected data from about 57,000 people across America between 1972 and 2012. They claimed they found that additional siblings - up to seven - is the key factor. The study didn't explain why seven was a lucky number (perhaps they had a casino moment), but they explained that larger families gives one more experience in interpersonal relationships, and thus, family dynamics.
"We expected that if you had any siblings at all, that would give you the experience with personal relationships that would help you in marriage," Ohio State assistant professor of psychology Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, study co-author said through a news release accompanying the presentation of their findings. "[But] we found that the real story appears to be how family dynamics change incrementally with the addition of each sibling. Having more siblings means more experience dealing with others, and that seems to provide additional help in dealing with a marriage relationship as an adult," she said.
Although Bobbit-Zeher's study found a connection between having more siblings and a lower probability of divorce, critics said the study failed to prove a "cause and effect" relationship within the data. The study's data and conclusions haven't been published in an academic journal, the critics said, so their findings should be considered "preliminary."
The study's co-author, sociology professor Doug Downey, answered that the "positive effects of having more brothers and sisters were seen across all generations included in the study." Critics countered that the research "didn't examine why having more siblings reduces the risk of divorce." Downey said "there are many possible reasons."
"Growing up in a family with siblings, you develop a set of skills for negotiating both negative and positive interactions," he said. "You have to consider other people's points of view and learn how to talk through problems. The more siblings you have, the more opportunities you have to practice those skills. That can be a good foundation for adult relationships, including marriage."
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