Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sibling rivalries

I believe, from personal experience, that this is true.

In the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review, Frank J. Sulloway and Richard L. Zweigenhaft went digging for evidence of siblings behaving differently in the vast database of baseball statistics. Given how younger siblings have been shown to take more risks than their older counterparts — perhaps originally to fight for food, now for parental attention — Drs. Sulloway and Zweigenhaft examined whether the phenomenon might persist to the point that baseball-playing brothers would try to steal bases at significantly different rates.

In fact they did: For more than 90 percent of sibling pairs who had played in the major leagues throughout baseball’s long recorded history, including Joe and Dom DiMaggio and Cal and Billy Ripken, the younger brother (regardless of overall talent) tried to steal more often than his older brother.

B. J. and his younger brother, Justin, a slugger for the Arizona Diamondbacks, are actually among the 1 in 10 exceptions (B. J., who at 25 is 3 years older than Justin, has been more of a speedy leadoff hitter, a position in the batting order often associated with base stealing). Yet B. J. nodded thoughtfully when told that scientists have found younger brothers tend to take more risks.

“He was always the one who would push things to the limit,” B. J. said of Justin. “When Mama told him, ‘Don’t ride your bike there,’ he would ride it. When Mama said, ‘Don’t stand on the bleachers,’ he’d stand up on the bleachers and fall and bust his head open.”

A course, my older brothers would have pushed me.

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Blogger Thomas said...

blech! You were practically an only child. True, though, we might have pushed you. 8-)

9:56 PM  

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