Volume 2

Comparative Study of Behavioral Perceptions of Only and Sibling Children

John Cosimini

This study examined behavioral perceptions of only and siblinged children. Participants were 251 volunteers, 32% of who were the parents of only children, with a mean age of 35. Participants were randomly assigned to read one of eight scenarios depicting a child as male/female, only/siblinged, and problematic/prosocial. The depicted child’s perceived behaviors and the parents as the source of the behaviors were rated. Results showed that participants viewed only-females as exhibiting less prosocial behavior than siblinged-females. Parents of only-males were perceived to be the cause of a child’s antisocial behavior more than parents of male-siblinged children. Parents of siblinged-females were perceived to be more at fault for a child’s antisocial behavior than were parents of only-females. Child evaluations were affected by participants’ age. Older participants viewed female-only and male-siblinged children as potential problems, both behaviorally and academically. Although mixed, these findings partially support the continued existence of negative stereotypes of only children and their parents.

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