Within-family variability in representations of past relationships with parents

Adam Davey, Corinna Jenkins Tucker, Karen Fingerman, Jyoti Savla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background. We examined within-family variation in siblings' memories of experiences with parents and their associations with current positive and negative affect. Methods. Participants were 1,369 adults with at least 1 sibling, aged 26-74 years from 498 families in the MacArthur Study of Midlife in the United States (Mage = 47 years, 59% women, 94% White). Results. There was considerable variability in recalled maternal and paternal treatment across the dimensions of affection (intraclass correlation coefficients [ICCs] 0.33 and 0.41, respectively), discipline (ICCs 0.39 and 0.43), and conflict (ICCs 0.24 and 0.26). In turn, recalled parental treatment, particularly affection, made unique contributions to current positive (ICC 0.12) and negative affect (ICC 0.08) over and above individual and familial level characteristics such as offspring demographic characteristics, extraversion and neuroticism, family structure, recalled early family environment, and parents' current status. Conclusions. Results link adults' memories of experiences with their parents in childhood to their current well-being and highlight the importance of considering within-family models for family theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-136
Number of pages12
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Family
  • Negative affect
  • Positive affect
  • Recalled parental treatment
  • Siblings
  • Within

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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