Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Donald E. Carns

Number of Pages



This research project examines how different types of sibling relationships, that is, full siblings, half siblings and stepsiblings, develop within remarried families. The study focuses on three types of sibling solidarity: functional (i.e., instrumental help and assistance); associational (i.e., frequency of contact); and affectual (i.e., emotional closeness). The study further analyzes the effects of sibship size, proximity, birth order, marital status and age and gender on the three forms of solidarity, and relies on five middle range theories (attachment theory, family systems theory, rational choice, social comparison, and evolutionary theory). The study is based on participant observation in a Blended Family Workshop, personal accounts of college freshmen reflecting on their family of orientation, and data from the General Social Survey of 1986, 1994, and 2002. The majority of respondents identify a full sibling close in age (a 3 year difference) as their favorite sibling. When the favorite sibling is a half sibling or stepsibling, the age difference between respondent and sibling is much larger (about 7 and 11 years respectively). The results indicate that full sibling bonds are stronger than half sibling and stepsibling bonds. Respondents who grew up in remarried families cite functional solidarity as the major reason why a certain sibling is their favorite. Children who experience trauma such as death or divorce turn to their sibling(s) for instrumental help and assistance. They are resilient and form close bonds with their full siblings and sometimes with half siblings and stepsiblings. Divorce and remarriage do not scar children for life. While remarried family life definitely has its challenges, especially in the first few years, I found that remained families are beneficial for children as articulated in many positive statements of respondents reared in this type of family. Being part of a remarried family does not affect the ability to develop close bonds with siblings. I conclude that the notion of family and ties among siblings are still perceived as important and valuable in our contemporary American society.


Blended Families; Families; Relationship; Remarried; Sibling; Sibling Relationships

Controlled Subject

Social psychology; Social psychology; Social sciences--Research

File Format


File Size

3502.08 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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