Sibling Relationships
in Families with Two Children in China

Developmental Psychology / Family Education

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Research Background

As the Chinese government has allowed families to have two children, a new family member relationship has emerged—sibling relationship. The research group dedicated to investigating this new form of relationship through field experiments (observations, interviews, surveys, and games).

My Role

As the research assistant, I visited the households, observed and recorded parent-child interaction, interviewed parents and collected surveys. I also experimented with children to measure interested developmental outcomes.

As the project coordinator, I arranged and assigned upcoming research. Meanwhile, I actively communicated with potential participants, the professor, and other RAs. I was also in charge of some administrative routines.

Research Paper

CHEN, B. B., ZHAO, Y., HAN, W., WANG, Y., WU, J., YUE, X., & WU, Y. (2017). Sibling relationships: Forms, causes and consequences. Advances in Psychological Science, 25(12), 2168-2178.

Abstract: In recent years, the Chinese central government has relaxed the enforcement of population
control and allowed families to have two children. As a result, a large number of family have had or will
have two children. The distinct differences between families with one child and families with two children are the arrival of the new family member relationship—sibling relationship. The literature the forms, causes and consequences of sibling relationships have been accumulating. The forms included sibling warmth, sibling conflicts and sibling relationships combined warmth with conflicts. The factors that influenced sibling relationships included sibling factors themselves (e.g., structural characteristics, temperament) and parents factors (parent-child relations, differential treatment, and marital relationship). Sibling relationships might influence children’s development through the mechanism of attachment, social learning, and social comparison. In addition, an integrative model of sibling relationships is developed. Last, it emphasized that future studies should improve the theoretical frameworks, value the cultural role, and emphasize the research on prevention and intervention.

CHEN, B. B., SHI, Z.Y., ZHAO, Y. (2016). The Role of Chinese Fathers’ Work-Family Conflicts on Family Transition toward the Coming Birth of Secondborn Infant and Implications to Welfare Policies. Paper presented to SNoW Workshop 2016: Family and Working Life in Chinese and Nordic Welfare States, Nordic Centre, Fudan University, Shanghai, 20-21 October 2016.

Abstract: The arrival of a new-born sibling is an important family transitional period, which may be stressful for their parents. Fathers’ involvement may relieve the stress and promote the adaption to the family transition. The purpose of the study is to examine how Chinese fathers’ work-family conflicts may influence family wellbeing (e.g., parent-child relationships, and partner communication) and individual wellbeing (i.e., life satisfaction) before the birth of the second child. Consistent with the prediction by the crossover theory, the results indicated that fathers’ work-family conflict was associated with parents’ life satisfaction, partner communication conflicts and mothers’ parenting behaviors. Research implications and suggestions for future research on fathers’ employment and links between work and family are discussed.

Some Moments

It is an honor for me to work with excellent research assistants and Associate Prof. Bin-Bin Chen. It is also an honor for me to know all these families. Here are some moments I would like to share:


  • Since our longitudinal research only lasted four waves, we had to say goodbye to families after over a year's research. Once a participant approached me several days after all four waves of research were over, saying that she really appreciate my effort for being there for over a year. I felt really, really happy and moved.

  • Almost everytime my partner and I returned to the university, we ordered "Malatang" (a popular though unhealthy Chinese food, but also happens to be my favorite), and I really loved that!

  • I was also in charge of printing out family photos for our participants as incentives. These photos have always triggered my memories and I missed their smiles. 

  • I joked around with other RAs when we took the subway to go to the participants' homes. But I never joked around with XY. Why? Because she was always asleep in the subways!

  • Once I mother asked me advice on naming their second child. She said that the second child should be after her family name because the first one has her husband's family name. I totally agree.

©2018 by Yu Zhao.