Parents’ Social Comparisons of Siblings and Youth Problem Behavior: A Moderated Mediation Model


Siblings, Parental differential treatment, Adolescent problem behavior, Parenting, Conflict, Social comparison


Parents compare their children to one another; those comparisons may have implications for the way mothers and fathers treat their children, as well as their children’s behavior. Data were collected annually for three years with parents, firstborns, and secondborns from 385 families (Time 1 age: firstborns, 15.71, SD= 1.07, 52% female; secondborns, 13.18, SD= 1.29, 50% female). Parents’ beliefs that one child was better behaved predicted differences in siblings’ reports of parent-child conflict. Additionally, for siblings close in age, mothers’ comparisons at Time 1 predicted youth’s problem behavior at Time 3 through siblings’ differential conflict with mothers. The results support and extend tenets from Social Comparison and Expectancy Value theories in regards to social comparison within families.

Original Publication Citation

Jensen, A. C., McHale, S. M., & *Pond, A. M. (2018). Parents’ social comparisons of siblings and youth problem behavior: A moderated mediation model. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. doi: 10.1007/s10964-018-0865-y

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Youth and Adolescence




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor