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Having a sister apparently makes you happier and more optimistic

A recent study has discovered that having a sister leads to better communication skills and improved mental health.

Having a sister apparently makes you happier and more optimistic
Image Source: Friends / IMDB

If you have an annoying sister, perhaps you have more to be thankful for, rather than miffed by.  You may have never imagined that having a sister could have been the magic key to happiness, but according to a new study conducted by researchers at De Montfort University and Ulster University, sisters could be the reason why individuals are happier and more optimistic. This is especially true when you compare happiness levels between those with sisters and those with brothers, Indy 100 from The Independent reports. Perhaps if you are a sister yourself, it may be worthwhile to send your sibling this study. Wink, wink.


The study involved sending 571 young people aged 17 to 25 psychological questionnaires that quizzed them on their lives. Participants answered a range of questions, including those about their mental health and their outlook towards life. As it turns out, the study discovered that those who grew up with sisters - regardless of whether they were older or younger - were more likely to be happy. The study also found other insights. For instance, it was determined that sisters had a higher propensity to encourage their siblings to be more open and communicative about their feelings. This, the researchers believe, is linked to better mental health.




Professor Tony Cassidy, one of the researchers who helped carry out the study, stated, "Sisters appear to encourage more open communication and cohesion in families. However, brothers seem to have the alternative effect. Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families. It could be that boys have a natural tendency not to talk about things. With boys together it is about a conspiracy of silence not to talk. Girls tend to break that down." The professor found this was especially true in the case of families in which the parents had separated or gotten a divorce. He added, "I think these findings could be used by people offering support to families and children during distressing times. We may have to think carefully about the way we deal with families with lots of boys."



Professor Cassidy is right. While boys may not be inherently uncommunicative, there is a troubling pattern to how families tend to raise boys. They expect young boys to be "masculine," which generally means being stoic and strong. Therefore, if we address the problematic ways in which we raise boys, we are likely to see children experience the benefits of having siblings across the board. Laura Padilla-Walker, a professor in Brigham Young University's School of Family Life, is of the belief that affection from siblings is a crucial part of building good behavioral patterns. She stated in an interview with ABC News, "Sibling affection from either gender was related to less delinquency and more pro-social behaviors like greater kindness and generosity, volunteering and helping others."



"Even if there is a little bit of fighting, as long as they have affection, the positive will win out," she continued. "If siblings get into a fight, they have to regulate emotions. That's an important skill to learn for later in life... Sibling relationships are the most enduring relationships people have. Parents die and you don't meet your spouse until later in life. So throughout life, siblings really remain important." Padilla-Walker also explained how sibling relationships are different from parent-child relationships. She explained, "The parent-child relationship is vertical, with the parent in charge. The sibling relationship is horizontal, you're on the same ground. That's a good thing because you can talk about what you're really feeling. There is no feeling of authority or being told you're doing something wrong." So, while you may hate sharing your stuff or always being compared to your sibling, maybe there's some good to come out of your relationship with your sibling (especially your sister) after all.

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