Historically, psychologists studied siblings in three ways: their physical characteristics, intelligence, and personalities. What they’ve found is that siblings are usually quite similar in the ways they look and in their cognitive abilities. Personality, on the other hand, is a whole different story. In fact, we have similar personality characteristics as our siblings only about 20% of the time.
So what accounts for our unique personalities? The article discusses three theories, all related to the effects of our environments. Most people think that our shared environments should make us similar to one another, but the opposite is true. Our shared environments make siblings different from one another, not alike. Even though we grow up in the same households, our individual experiences are often dramatically different. This is because we experience major events, such as divorces and deaths, differently depending on our particular ages and circumstances when these things happen. And even if our parents want to treat us the same, they don’t. In addition, there comes a time when our families and parents influence us less than our friends. We have the benefit of being able to choose our friends, and the time we spend with them and the experiences friends share with one another eventually out-weigh the impact of our families.
So when you’re exchanging gifts with your siblings this holiday season and you’re wondering why they gave you a box set of KISS CDs, and you’ve listened exclusively to classical music your whole life, maybe you’ll have a better understanding of their point of view, not to mention an interesting topic for conversation that the whole family can relate to.