Marital Conflict and Intimacy: Influences on Sibling Relationship Quality in Early Childhood

Open Access
Cosco, Rebekah Ilene
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Alysia Blandon, Thesis Supervisor
  • Alysia Yvonne Blandon, Thesis Supervisor
  • David A. Rosenbaum, Honors Advisor
  • early childhood
  • intimacy
  • conflict
  • siblings
  • marital relationships
  • child temperament
This study examines conflict and intimacy in the marital relationship as distinctive influences on sibling conflict and warmth in early childhood. Additionally, the moderating effect of child temperament, specifically anger-proneness and fear, is assessed. It is hypothesized that marital conflict and intimacy will be positively associated with sibling conflict and warmth, respectively, and that child temperament will moderate those associations. Greater anger proneness is predicted to be associated with greater sibling conflict, whereas greater fear is predicted to be associated with less sibling conflict and greater sibling intimacy. Participants were 2-parent intact families (N= 57) with a 2-year old younger child and his/her older sibling (ranging in age from preschool to early-elementary). Mothers and fathers completed questionnaires on the marital relationship, their children’s sibling relationship and their children’s temperament. Results indicated that marital intimacy was a predictor of sibling intimacy, while children’s anger proneness was a predictor of conflict in the sibling relationship. Child temperament was not a moderator of the relationship between marital quality and sibling quality. These findings underscore the importance of marital intimacy for positive aspects of children’s sibling relationships.