People who have sisters are happier, more optimistic, less stressed, and better at coping with life's problems, according to a new study on mental health.
Psychologists at the University of Ulster and De Monfort University questioned 571 people aged 17 to 25 who had only sisters or brothers, both, or were only children, reports The Daily Mail. Researchers found that subjects who grew up with at least one sister were generally happier, more ambitious, and more emotionally balanced than those who only had brothers. [Aww, I am forwarding this to my sister right now. — Dodai]
"Our explanation for it is that the presence of girls opens up channels of communication and it becomes a much more expressive situation that's positive," said University of Ulster researcher Tony Cassidy, who co-authored the study. "Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families."
Researchers also found that people with sisters were more successful in their careers, as subjects with sisters were more likely to strive to reach their goals. "It certainly seems there is something about the family situation with the number of girls in it that leads to more encouragement to achieve and be independent," said Cassidy.
Women benefited the most from having sisters in families where the parents were still married, but in divorced families both men and women benefited equally from having sisters. "It seems [sisters'] natural inclination was to express themselves, talk about the separation and encourage other family members to do so as well. It seems to help keep family relationships going," said co-author Liz Wright, research fellow at De Montfort, according to The Times of London. "There was markedly less distress in broken homes with a sister."
Brothers had a less positive effect, and men who grew up with lots of brothers scored the lowest for emotional health. "The more natural trend for boys is not to talk about things," said Cassidy in The Daily Mail. "When there are a number of boys together, it is almost like a conspiracy of silence no to talk, whereas a girl in that context breaks it down."
As for only children, their scores fell between those with only sisters and those with only brothers. "It seems many only children had built up significant social support outside the home by the time they reached their late teens which helped them in a crisis and in other areas of life," said Wright.
Why Having A Sister Makes You Happier And Helps Families Bond [The Daily Mail]
Growing Up With A Sister Makes People More Balanced [The Times Of London]