Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

November 1997


Published in Journal of Youth and Adolescence 26:5 (1997), pp. 539–558. Copyright © 1997 Plenum Publishing Corporation/Springer Verlag BV. Used by permission. DOI - 10.1023/A:1024529921987


One hundred twelve white, middle class 10-14-year-olds participated in a descriptive study of conflict with their closest sibling and best friend. Analysis of questionnaire ratings (completed by all participants) revealed that frequency of conflict was significantly related to ratings of the friend’s importance and satisfaction with the friendship but was not related to sibling relationship ratings. Descriptions of specific conflicts in the two relationships (provided by 81 youngsters) were compared to examine the onset, process, and aftermath of conflict. Conflicts between siblings and friends differed in how they were structured and experienced, suggesting that conflict functions differently in each relationship. The possible developmental implications of relationship differences in interpersonal conflict are discussed, and directions for future research identified.