Study Says Having Sisters Can Make You A Better Person

by Christina Marfice
Originally Published: 
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We already knew having sisters was the best, but here are all the (scientific) perks

Growing up with sisters is both the greatest, and really rough. They’re annoying. They’re loud. They steal your favorite shoes and never give them back (Yes, I’m talking to you, Tori). But for all the ways our sisters drive us up the wall, they’re also our best friends for life. And now, we’re learning there are even more perks to keeping them around: Having sisters actually makes you a better person.

Yep, that’s right. Researchers from Brigham Young University found that having sisters boosts your mental health and self-esteem, and that people with sisters find themselves striving to protect them from “feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious and fearful.” Obviously, working so hard to protect someone from those kinds of feelings makes you a more nurturing, empathetic person.

“What we know suggests that sisters play a role in promoting positive mental health,” Brigham Young University assistant professor Alex Jensen, who wrote several studies on sibling relationships, told the Huffington Post. “Later in life they often do more to keep families in contact with one another after the parents pass.”

And that’s not all sisters are good for. The research also showed something else that everyone with sisters already knows, but it’s still nice to have science back it up: All those conflicts with your sister made you better at communication and conflict resolution.

“They help you develop social skills, like communication, compromise and negotiation,” Jensen explained. “Even sibling conflict, if it is minor, can promote healthy development. Even if there is a little bit of fighting, as long as they have affection, the positive will win out. If siblings get in a fight, they have to regulate emotions. That’s an important skill to learn for later in life.”

One part of the study that really was surprising was how much sisters promote loving, nurturing, altruistic relationships. Researchers found that sister relationships enhanced those values even more than loving parent relationships.

And while sister-sister relationships may seem like the ones most likely to benefit from all of this, brothers don’t get left out. The study showed boys who grew up with sisters were better at communicating with and relating to women. Again, that’s something we probably could have guessed, but it’s nice to have science on our side. Boys, all the more reason to buy your sister a drink this week (Yes, I’m talking to you, Adam, John and Taryn).

Those of us with sisters already knew we got the better deal. But now that science is proving it, we appreciate our sisters all the more.

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