THE SELF EVALUATION MAINTENANCE MODEL IN ADOLESCENT SIBLING AND TWIN RELATIONSHIPS

Blakeley-Smith, Anita Maria (2006). THE SELF EVALUATION MAINTENANCE MODEL IN ADOLESCENT SIBLING AND TWIN RELATIONSHIPS PhD Thesis, School of Psychology , University of Queensland.

       
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Author Blakeley-Smith, Anita Maria
Thesis Title THE SELF EVALUATION MAINTENANCE MODEL IN ADOLESCENT SIBLING AND TWIN RELATIONSHIPS
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor Patricia Noller
Abstract/Summary The project was designed to examine how nontwin and twin sibling adolescents deal with situations of competition and comparison between them. Using the Self Evaluation Maintenance Model (Tesser, 1988) as a framework, this project explored the reactions and strategies that adolescent nontwin and twin adolescents employ in order to maintain a positive selfevaluation. In addition, the potential mediating factors of sibling relationship quality and perceptions of differential parental treatment on adolescents’ reactions to competition and comparison to their self esteem was also investigated. Three studies were conducted. All three studies investigated the relevance of the SEM model to understanding nontwin and twin adolescents’ reactions to situations of competition and comparison, but employed different methodologies and samples. Study 1 involved both members of the sibling pair completing a questionnaire that included their emotional and behavioural reactions to selfgenerated situations of competition and comparison, counterbalanced by closeness, relevance and performance. In this study, closeness referred to either a sibling or friend comparator. Four hundred and sixty (232 pairs of) same sex nontwin and twin adolescents aged between 13 and 17 took part in Study 1. The results revealed that both sibling nontwin and twin adolescents were motivated to maintain a positive self evaluation. In line with the SEM model, both the comparison and reflection processes were evident for emotional reactions. However, closeness of the competitor did not interact with selfrelevance of the task to affect performance as predicted. Self evaluation was enhanced when both nontwin and twin adolescents were outperformed on tasks of low rather than high self relevance, indicating the presence of the reflection process. However, nontwin adolescents reported being more positive about being outperformed by their sibling than their friend suggesting that siblings may consider their friendships to be the closer relationship to them. Closeness of the competitor did not affect positive reactions to competition and comparison for twin adolescents. For negative emotional reactions and behavioural reactions, closeness of the competitor did not interact with relevance to affect performance for either nontwin or twin adolescents as predicted. Birth order was found to affect self evaluation, even in twin relationships. Both younger nontwin and twin adolescents were more able to preserve self evaluation when outperformed by their older sibling, while older nontwin and twin adolescents found being outperformed by their younger sibling to be particularly difficult. Zygosity effects were only found for positive but not negative emotional reactions. Contrary to expectations, perceptions of differential parental treatment did not mediate emotional reactions to self esteem for adolescents. Sibling relationship quality did not mediate emotional reactions to self esteem for nontwin adolescents. When outperformed by their twin, sibling relationship conflict and sibling relationship warmth was found to mediate emotional reactions to self esteem for monozygotic twins and dizygotic twins respectively. A subsample of Study 1 participants completed Study 2. The participants in Study 2 were one hundred and six (53 pairs of) nontwin and twin same sex adolescents. Study 2 explored nontwin and twin adolescent siblings’ emotional reactions to situations of competition and comparison in an experiential context, again using the SEM model (Tesser, 1988) as a framework. Sibling pairs were asked to orally discuss situations where they had competed with or compared themselves to their sibling/twin, to view themselves completing this discussion and then to complete a series of questions relating to Tesser’s (1988) SEM model. Subjects completed the same questions for each of the four SEM conditions, counterbalanced by performance on the task and relevance of the task. As adolescents only competed against a close competitor (i.e. their sibling), the relevance of the task was the determining factor as to whether the processes of reflection and comparison would be utilised. The comparison and reflection processes were indicated for both positive and negative emotional reactions for nontwin and twin adolescents. Unlike Study 1, birth order, zygosity effects and mediating effects of sibling relationship quality were not found. Study 3 involved comparison of nontwin and twin adolescents in terms of self evaluation maintenance within the framework of the SEM model in both the retrospective and experiential context. In this study, closeness was assessed in terms of genetic similarity. Monozygotic twins showed the most positive emotional reactions to performance against their twin than dizygotic twins and siblings in both contexts. For retrospectively recalled situations, siblings, rather than twins, reported the most negative reactions to being outperformed on highly self relevant tasks compared to monozygotic and dizygotic twins. This project found that the SEM model (Tesser, 1988) provided a more valid framework for explaining both twin and nontwin adolescent siblings self evaluation maintenance than a strictly social comparison approach. The results of all three studies were interpreted as being generally consistent with the SEM model. The results contribute new insights into differences in self evaluation maintenance between nontwin and twin adolescent siblings and provide direction for future research into the potential role of birth order, sibling relationship quality and attachment in adolescents’ self evaluation maintenance.

 
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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 16:38:36 EST