Sibling Influence on Mexican-Origin Adolescents' Deviant and Sexual Risk Behaviors: The Role of Sibling Modeling



      A growing body of research indicates that siblings uniquely influence each other's health risk behaviors during adolescence and young adulthood. Mechanisms underlying these associations, however, are largely unknown because they are rarely tested directly. The present study addressed this gap by examining the role of sibling modeling in explaining changes in Mexican-origin youths' deviant and sexual risk behaviors over time.


      The sample included 380 Mexican-origin siblings (older sibling age: M = 21.18, SD = 1.59; younger sibling age: M = 18.19, SD = .46) from (N = 190) families. Participants provided self-reports of their sibling relationship qualities, including modeling, as well as their engagement in deviant and sexual risk-taking behaviors in two home interviews across a 2-year span.


      A series of residualized regression models revealed that younger siblings' perceptions of modeling moderated the links between older siblings' deviant and sexual risk behaviors and younger siblings' subsequent behaviors in those same domains. Specifically, high levels of modeling predicted stronger associations between older siblings' earlier and younger siblings' later risk behaviors controlling for younger siblings' earlier behaviors as well as variables that have been used as proxies for social learning in previous research.


      Social learning mechanisms, especially modeling, are salient processes through which older siblings transmit norms and expectations regarding participation in health risk behaviors. Future research should continue to explore the ways in which siblings influence each other because such processes are emerging targets for intervention and prevention.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Adolescent Health
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Defoe I.N.
        • Keijsers L.
        • Hawk S.T.
        • et al.
        Siblings versus parents and friends: Longitudinal linkages to adolescent externalizing problems.
        J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2013; (Advance online publication)
        • Slomkowski C.
        • Rende R.
        • Conger K.J.
        • et al.
        Sisters, brothers, and delinquency: Evaluating social influence during early and middle adolescence.
        Child Dev. 2001; 72: 271-283
        • Slomkowski C.
        • Rende R.
        • Novak S.
        • et al.
        Sibling effects on smoking in adolescence: Evidence for social influence from a genetically informed design.
        Addiction. 2005; 100: 430-438
        • Windle M.
        Parental, sibling, and peer influences on adolescent substance use and alcohol problems.
        Appl Dev Sci. 2000; 4: 98-110
        • East P.L.
        Impact of adolescent childbearing on families and younger siblings: Effects that increase younger siblings' risk for early pregnancy.
        Appl Dev Sci. 1998; 2: 62-74
        • McHale S.M.
        • Bissell J.
        • Kim J.
        Sibling relationship, family, and genetic factors in sibling similarity in sexual risk.
        J Fam Psychol. 2009; 23: 562-572
        • Kendler K.S.
        • Ohlsson H.
        • Sundquist K.
        • et al.
        Within-family environmental transmission of drug abuse: A Swedish national study.
        Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2013; (Advance online publication)
        • McGue M.
        • Sharma A.
        • Benson P.
        Parent and sibling influences on adolescent alcohol use and misuse: Evidence from a U.S. adoption cohort.
        J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 1996; 57: 8-18
        • Natsuaki M.N.
        • Ge X.
        • Reiss D.
        • et al.
        Aggressive behavior between siblings and the development of externalizing problems: Evidence from a genetically sensitive study.
        Dev Psychol. 2009; 45: 1009-1018
        • McHale S.M.
        • Updegraff K.A.
        • Whiteman S.D.
        Sibling relationships and influences in childhood and adolescence.
        J Marriage Fam. 2012; 74: 913-930
        • Updegraff K.A.
        • McHale S.M.
        • Whiteman S.D.
        • et al.
        Adolescent sibling relationships in Mexican-American families: Exploring the role of familism.
        J Fam Psychol. 2005; 19: 512-522
        • Bandura A.
        Social learning theory.
        Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ1977
        • McHale S.M.
        • Crouter A.C.
        The family contexts of children's sibling relationships.
        in: Brody G.H. Sibling relationships: Their causes and consequences. Ablex, Norwood, NJ1996: 173-195
        • Dunn J.
        Sibling relationships in early childhood.
        Child Dev. 1983; 54: 787-811
        • Furman W.
        • Buhrmester D.
        Children's perceptions of the qualities of sibling relationships.
        Child Dev. 1985; 56: 448-461
        • Patterson G.R.
        Siblings: Fellow travelers in coercive family processes.
        in: Blanchard R.J. Advances in the study of aggression. Academic, New York1984: 174-214
        • Fagan A.A.
        • Najman J.M.
        The relative contributions of parental and sibling substance use to adolescent tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use.
        J Drug Issues. 2005; 35: 869-884
        • Rowe D.
        • Gulley B.
        Sibling effects on substance abuse and delinquency.
        Criminology. 1992; 30: 217-233
        • Trim R.S.
        • Leuthe E.
        • Chassin L.
        Sibling influence on alcohol use in a young adult, high-risk sample.
        J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2006; 67: 391-398
        • Rodgers J.L.
        • Rowe D.C.
        Influence of siblings on adolescent sexual behavior.
        Dev Psychol. 1988; 24: 722-728
        • East P.L.
        • Felice M.E.
        • Morgan M.C.
        Sisters' and girlfriends' sexual and childbearing behavior. Effects on early adolescent girls' sexual outcomes.
        J Marriage Fam. 1993; 55: 953-963
        • East P.L.
        • Reyes B.T.
        • Horn E.J.
        Association between adolescent pregnancy and a family history of teenage births.
        Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2007; 29: 108-115
        • East P.L.
        • Jacobson L.J.
        The younger siblings of teenage mothers: A follow-up of their pregnancy risk.
        Dev Psychol. 2001; 37: 254-264
        • East P.L.
        • Khoo S.T.
        Longitudinal pathways linking family factors and sibling relationship quality to adolescent substance use and sexual risk behaviors.
        J Fam Psychol. 2005; 19: 571-580
        • Whiteman S.D.
        • McHale S.M.
        • Crouter A.C.
        Explaining sibling similarities: Perceptions of sibling influences.
        J Youth Adolesc. 2007; 36: 963-972
        • Whiteman S.D.
        • Bernard J.M.
        • McHale S.M.
        The nature and correlates of sibling influence in two-parent African-American families.
        J Marriage Fam. 2010; 72: 267-281
        • Blyth D.A.
        • Foster-Clark F.S.
        Gender differences in perceived intimacy with different members of adolescents' social networks.
        Sex Roles. 1987; 17: 689-718
      1. Eccles J, Barber B. The risky behavior scale. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1990.

      2. Harris KM, CT Halpern E, Whitsel J, et al. The national longitudinal study of adolescent health: Research design. 2009. Available at:

        • Aiken L.S.
        • West S.G.
        Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions.
        Sage, Newbury Park, CA1991
        • Enders C.K.
        Applied missing data analysis.
        The Guilford Press, New York2010
        • Schachter F.F.
        • Shore E.
        • Feldman-Rotman S.
        • et al.
        Sibling deidentification.
        Dev Psychol. 1976; 12: 418-427
        • Sulloway F.J.
        Born to rebel: Birth order, family dynamics, and creative lives.
        Pantheon Books, New York1996
        • Whiteman S.D.
        • Jensen A.C.
        • Maggs J.L.
        Similarities and differences in adolescent siblings' alcohol-related attitudes, use, and delinquency: Evidence for convergent and divergent influence processes.
        J Youth Adolesc. 2013; (Advance online publication)
        • Sabogal F.
        • Marín G.
        • Otero-Sabogal R.
        • et al.
        Hispanic familism and acculturation: What changes and what doesn't?.
        Hisp J Behav Sci. 1987; 9: 397-412
        • Feinberg M.E.
        • Soli A.R.
        • McHale S.M.
        The third rail of family systems: Sibling relations, mental and behavioral health, and intervention.
        Clinical Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2012; 15: 43-57
        • Feinberg M.E.
        • Solmeyer A.R.
        • Hostetler M.L.
        • et al.
        Siblings are special: Initial test of a new approach for preventing youth behavior problems.
        J Adolesc Health. 2013; (Advance online publication)