Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home


Sociologist at New York U. Wins $500,000

Susan Notes: Below the article see two reviews of Conley's new book and an excerpt from the book in which he challenges challengs the perceived split between individual personality-based explanations for success and failure, and sociological ones. He examines how and why is it that some siblings end up in radically different positions in life?


The National Science Foundation has announced that Dalton Conley, a professor of sociology and public policy at New York University, is the winner of the 2005 Alan T. Waterman Award, which includes $500,000 for continued research. He is the first sociologist to receive the honor.

Mr. Conley's work focuses on social inequality and how socioeconomic status and advantage are transmitted through generations.

His studies have implications for social and economic policy, and his books and other writings have caught the interest of policy makers and the public, according to Arden L. Bement Jr., director of the science foundation.

"Dr. Conley's work is the epitome of the kind of research that NSF vigorously supports," Mr. Bement said in a written statement. "He communicates his findings directly and eloquently, reaches varied audiences, and, by so doing, opens new avenues of interest and study, not to mention he keeps government policy makers on their toes."

Mr. Conley's most recent book, The Pecking Order (Pantheon, 2005), examines the inequalities among siblings and within families. The research on which it was based was supported by a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Award.

The Waterman award is given each year to a young scientist or engineer. It was established in 1975 to mark the National Science Foundation's 25th anniversary and is named for the NSF's first director.

The surprising fact that sibling differences account for three-quarters of all differences between individuals in explaining American economic inequality acts as a challenge for NYU sociology professor Conley. Drawing on economic studies conducted by the U.S. Census, University of Michigan and University of Chicago, and interviewing hundreds of subjects, Conley illuminates provocative findings. Counter to the belief that birth order predicts a child's success and role within a family, he argues that what really matters is family size, parental time and attention, and how much of the family's financial resources are available for the child. Conley concludes from his findings that parents can more easily affect their children's development by their choices of family size and spacing of births than by attempts to move up the economic ladder. He is candid about the limitations of current surveys and discusses the complexities of studying an institution whose modern workings are contingent on slippery factors (e.g., gender, race, class). Despite all he's learned, the staggering number of factors affecting the workings of a family frustrates Conley's desire to come up with hard and fast rules. Yet from what he has found thus far, he can proclaim, "the family is not a haven in a harsh world. It is part and parcel of that world, rat race and all. Inequality, after all, starts at home." Although Conley's academic prose may challenge general readers , graduate students looking for thesis topics will be well served: he has tons of ideas where research could go to get more answers.

The Pecking Order : Which Siblings Succeed and Why by Dalton Conley (Pantheon 2004) (Vintage 2005)

from Publishers Weekly
The surprising fact that sibling differences account for three-quarters of all differences between individuals in explaining American economic inequality acts as a challenge for NYU sociology professor Conley. Drawing on economic studies conducted by the U.S. Census, University of Michigan and University of Chicago, and interviewing hundreds of subjects, Conley illuminates provocative findings. Counter to the belief that birth order predicts a child's success and role within a family, he argues that what really matters is family size, parental time and attention, and how much of the family's financial resources are available for the child. Conley concludes from his findings that parents can more easily affect their children's development by their choices of family size and spacing of births than by attempts to move up the economic ladder. He is candid about the limitations of current surveys and discusses the complexities of studying an institution whose modern workings are contingent on slippery factors (e.g., gender, race, class). Despite all he's learned, the staggering number of factors affecting the workings of a family frustrates Conley's desire to come up with hard and fast rules. Yet from what he has found thus far, he can proclaim, "the family is not a haven in a harsh world. It is part and parcel of that world, rat race and all. Inequality, after all, starts at home." Although Conley's academic prose may challenge general readers , graduate students looking for thesis topics will be well served: he has tons of ideas where research could go to get more answers.

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com

Dalton Conley begins this provocative study of the ways in which familial pecking orders affect the adult lives of siblings with a quick look at the brothers, or half-brothers, Clinton. The environment in which they grew up was essentially the same -- a family of modest means presided over by a gregarious mother and an abusive father -- but the two boys took dramatically different courses. Bill did well in college and went into Arkansas and then national politics with, as the world well knows, spectacular success. Roger, by contrast, went to prison for cocaine dealing and, after his release, continued a pattern of drifting from pillar to post.

The explanation, Conley argues, is to be found neither in genetic differences nor in birth order but in the way the family's limited financial resources affected each of them. Virginia Clinton "put all her eggs -- all her hopes and dreams -- in Bill's basket," with little left to give Roger a similar boost. Indeed, Conley argues, "Bill's success seemed to come at the expense of Roger's -- particularly when it led Roger to a false sense of invincibility" that convinced him that being the brother of the governor and then the president made him "untouchable."

Maybe so, maybe not. These are matters in which speculation carries at least as much weight as sociological and psychological data. But throughout The Pecking Order Conley makes a convincing argument that "in explaining economic inequality in America, sibling differences represent about three-quarters of all the differences between individuals." Statistics indicate that "the basic phenomenon of sibling differences in success that the Clintons represent is not all that unusual." Conley writes:

"What do sibling disparities . . . indicate? They imply an American landscape where class identity is ever changing and not necessarily shared between brothers and sisters. Taken as a whole, the above statistics present a starkly darker portrait of American family life than we are used to. We want to think that the home is a haven in a heartless world. The truth is that inequality starts at home. These statistics also pose problems for those concerned with what seems to be a marked erosion of the idealized nuclear family. In fact, they hint at a trade-off between opportunity and stable, cohesive families."

Or, to put it another way, happy families are not all alike: Whatever picture it presents to the outside world, a family is "a tangled web," a "complex network of affiliations stewing over with the potential for politics and intrigue" in which inequality among siblings is often the rule, with lasting repercussions for all. Children who grow up in the same family may "end up in radically different positions in life." Why? What's going on here?

A lot, Conley argues, some of it the result of deliberately inconsistent treatment of and/or expectations for the children within a family, some the result of luck, accident, sheer randomness, some a combination of all of the above. There's "an old saying that a gene for aggressiveness might land you the job of CEO if you are born to wealth and privilege, but gets you jail time if you are born in the ghetto." Or, as Conley says, "The random lottery of birth seems to have made all the difference." The genetic element is there, to be sure, but the circumstances in which a child is reared may be the controlling element in how it develops. By the same token, birth order can be a factor, too, but the ways in which each family treats its individual children often carry greater weight than their position in the family's birth hierarchy.

To his credit Conley is quick to acknowledge that these are questions for which there are no easy answers: "Anyone who tells you that they [sic] are going to explain your personality, your marriage, your career or anything else about you with one factor -- gender, birth order, income or astrological sign -- might as well be selling you a bottle of snake oil. There are as many explanations for particular family pecking orders as there are families." The point, though, is that pecking orders do exist, and that it is frequently possible to determine both how they were created and what effects they have.

Thus, for example, Conley argues that family size matters, and that the larger the family, the greater the possibility that some children within it will have greater advantages (i.e., higher places in the pecking order) than others. The simple explanation is that "parental time, attention, and money are somewhat fixed pies and each additional slice means less for everybody." Within a large family, birth order is likely to matter more than in a small one, because children in the middle (a) rarely if ever get only-child parental attention, as first- and last-born often do and (b) get smaller shares of the overall family pie than do first- and last-born.

Obviously people who grew up in large, happy families -- the Gilbreths of Cheaper by the Dozen, for example -- will rush to defend them on any number of perfectly reasonable grounds. By marriage my own family is connected to another family with a dozen children, all of whom seem to have thrived and to have been spared painful sibling rivalries. But no doubt it helped that the family was relatively prosperous though hardly rich (the children were winners in that "random lottery of birth") and that both parents seem to have gone out of the way to divide their attention and resources as equally as possible among all the children.

Which is simply to say that in the matters Conley raises, no rules are hard and fast, but a number of points are sufficiently valid to provide useful guideposts. One is that how a child is viewed within a family -- the smart kid, the dumb kid, the jock, the lazybones -- has lasting effects whether the characterization is accurate or not. This is "what sociologists call a 'master status,' a perceived characteristic that colors the way everything else about a person is viewed. It becomes the first thing that someone thinks of when that person comes to mind." It also can become the way that person thinks of him- or herself, with long-term consequences that can be enriching or disabling.

Another guidepost is that "small differences can generate large ripples"; one son plays grade-school football and succeeds, another tries and fails, and the incredibly complex structure of accomplishment and resentment plays itself out over two lifetimes. A related one is that events occurring randomly can have lasting and traumatic (or beneficial) effects. Conley tells the story of a girl who was gang-raped at age 15, a personal calamity that knocked her "off the track of straight-laced honor student." Her parents asked her not to tell her older sister, to whom she was close, because "they did not want both their kids knocked off course by this tragedy," with the predictable result "that her sister, Denise, went off to college with no major trauma, and Missy was left to deal with the rape's aftermath on her own, without any sibling support."

For whatever reason, these parents created a pecking order based not on birth order but on their own expectations for the girls' future. The rape was bad enough, but the parents could have diminished its long-term effects by acting more sensitively -- less selfishly, if you will -- than they did. Another girl, Meredith, who suffered brain damage in a fall, received strong support from her mother -- to whom she had not previously been close -- and a hair stylist who urged her to enter a beauty contest. She did, and won, and was set on a course that led to a fruitful, happy life. By contrast her sister resented their mother's focus on Meredith, and as married adults the two remain distant, both physically and emotionally, from each other.

Randomness isn't all by any means, but it's a lot. Nor is it entirely random. The "outside influences" that can alter lives "are not totally haphazard." Girls "are much more likely than boys to get raped or sexually abused," which is to say that being a girl increases the chances that a "random" act will occur to you and forever alter your life. Ditto if you are a young black male, because "given the structure of American society, black teenage boys are more likely than white teenage boys to get into trouble with the law," with unforeseeable but probably unfortunate consequences.

This only begins to touch on Conley's argument. The effects of divorce, working mothers, changes in families' income and social position -- these and many other matters come under Conley's microscope. Though at times he comes up a bit short in his avowed desire to avoid writing sociologese, on the whole the book is lucid and provocative. Certainly it will make you think twice about how you became what you are, and if you're a parent it will -- or should -- make you think hard about the pecking order you've created and its potential influence on your children's lives.

Book Excerpt


ONE
INEQUALITY STARTS AT HOME
An Introduction to the Pecking Order

Let me start with a story.

Once upon a time a future president was born. William Jefferson Blythe IV entered the world one month premature but at a healthy six pounds and eight ounces. At twenty-three, his mother, Virginia, was young by today's standards, but perhaps a touch old for Arkansas in the 1940s. She was a widow, so times were tight during Bill's early years. In fact, times would be tough during all of Bill's childhood. Nonetheless, he seemed destined for great things. According to family lore, in second grade Bill's teacher "predicted that he would be President someday."[1]

His mother eventually married Roger Clinton, but that didn't make life any easier for Bill. Roger was a bitterly jealous alcoholic who often became physically abusive to his wife. Bill cites the day that he stood up to his stepfather as the most important marker in his transition to adulthood and perhaps in his entire life. In 1962, when Bill was sixteen, Virginia finally divorced Roger, but by then there was another Roger Clinton in the family, Bill's younger half brother.

Though Bill despised his stepfather, he still went to the Garland County courthouse and changed his last name to Clinton after his mother's divorce from the man--not for the old man's sake, but so that he would have the same last name as the younger brother he cherished. Though they were separated by ten years, were only half siblings, and ran in very different circles, the brothers were close. The younger Roger probably hated his father more than Bill did, but he nonetheless started to manifest many of the same traits as he came of age. He was a fabulous salesman: at age thirteen, he sold twice as many magazines as any of his classmates for a school project, winning a Polaroid camera and a turkey for his superior effort. He also had an affinity for substance abuse: by eighteen, he was heavily into marijuana. During Bill's first (unsuccessful) congressional campaign in 1974, Roger spent much of his time stenciling signs while smoking joints in the basement of campaign headquarters.

As Bill's political fortunes rose, Roger's prospects first stagnated and then sank. He tried his hand at a musical career, worked odd jobs, and eventually got into dealing drugs. And it was not just pot; in 1984, then-governor Bill Clinton was informed that his brother was a cocaine dealer under investigation by the Arkansas state police. The governor did not stand in the way of a sting operation, and Roger was caught on tape boasting how untouchable he was as the brother of the state's chief executive. Then the axe fell. After his arrest, Roger was beside himself in tears, threatening suicide for the shame he had brought upon his family--in particular, his famous brother. Upon hearing this threat Bill shook Roger violently. (He, in truth, felt responsible for his brother's slide.)

The next January, Roger was sentenced to a two-year prison term in a federal corrections facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Bill describes the whole ordeal as the most difficult episode of his life. David Maraniss--the author of First in His Class, the most comprehensive biography of Clinton to date-- summarizes the family situation as follows:

How could two brothers be so different: the governor and the coke dealer, the Rhodes scholar and the college dropout, one who tried to read three hundred books in three months and another who at his most addicted snorted cocaine sixteen times a day, one who could spend hours explaining economic theories and another whose economic interests centered on getting a new Porsche? In the case of the Clinton brothers, the contrasts become more understandable when considered within the context of their family history and environment. They grew up in a town of contrast and hypocrisy, in a family of duality and conflict. Bill and Roger were not so much opposites as two sides of the same coin.[2]

If asked to explain why Bill succeeded where Roger failed, most people will immediately point to genetic differences. After all, they were only half siblings to begin with. Others will pin it on birth order, claiming that firstborns are more driven and successful. But both of these accounts rely on individual explanations--ones particular to the unique biology or psychology of Bill and Roger--and both are incomplete. Was Bill more favored and more driven because he was a firstborn? My research shows that in families with two kids, birth order does not really matter that much. In fact, just under one-fourth of U.S. presidents were firstborns--about what we would expect from chance. The fact is that birth position only comes into play in larger families. But what about genes: was Bill simply luckier in the family gene pool? That may be so, but it still does not explain why sibling disparities are much more common in poor families and broken homes than they are in rich, intact families. In fact, when families have limited resources, the success of one sibling often generates a negative backlash among the others.

Sure, if one kid is born a mathematical genius and the other with no talents whatsoever, their respective dice may be cast at birth. But for most of us, how genes matter depends on the social circumstances around us. A child in one family may be born with innate athletic talent that is never nurtured because the parents in that family value reading ability over all else. Yet in another family, the fit between the individual talents of a particular child--say spatial reasoning--and the values of the parents may be perfect, and those abilities are realized. Finally, what kind of rewards talent brings depends entirely on the socioeconomic structure of the time. Fifty years ago, musical talent might have led to a decent living. Today--in an economy that rewards the most popular musicians handsomely at the expense of everyone else--innate musical ability is more often a route to financial struggle.

In Bill Clinton's case, he obviously had good genes--which contributed to his sharp mind, quick wit, tall stature, and verbal charisma--but there was not much advantage to being the firstborn. What really made a difference in his life was the good fit between his particular talents, the aspirations of those around him, and the political opportunities in a small state like Arkansas. This good fit combined with his family's lack of economic resources to generate an enormous sibling difference in success. However, had Virginia had money, she might not have had to put all her eggs--all her hopes and dreams--in Bill's basket. She might have been able to actively compensate for Bill's success by giving Roger extra financial and nonfinancial support--sending him, for example, to an elite private school when he started to veer off track. Instead, Bill's success seemed to come at the expense of Roger's--particularly when it led Roger to a false sense of invincibility.

On the surface, it may seem that the case of the Clintons is atypical. And, of course, a pair of brothers who are, respectively, the president and an ex-con is a bit extreme. But the basic phenomenon of sibling differences in success that the Clintons represent is not all that unusual. In fact, in explaining economic inequality in America, sibling differences represent about three-quarters of all the differences between individuals. Put another way, only one-quarter of all income inequality is between families. The remaining 75 percent is within families.[3] Sibling differences in accumulated wealth (i.e., net worth) are even greater, reaching 90-plus percent.[4] What this means is that if we lined everyone in America up in rank order of how much money they have--from the poorest homeless person to Bill Gates himself--and tried to predict where any particular individual might fall on that long line, then knowing about what family they came from would narrow down our uncertainty by about 25 percent (in the case of income). In other words, the dice are weighted by which family you come from, but you and your siblings still have to roll them. For example, if you come from a family that ranks in the bottom 5 percent of the income hierarchy, then you have a 40 percent chance of finding yourself in the lowest 10 percent, a 21 percent chance of making it to somewhere between the 30th and 70th percentile, and only a one in a thousand chance of making it to the top 10 percent. If you come from the richest 5 percent of families in America, then your odds are flipped. And if you start at the dead middle of the American income ladder, then you are about 63 percent likely to end up somewhere in that 30th- to 70th-percentile range, with a 4 percent chance of ending up either in the top or the bottom 10 percent.[5] A similar pattern holds for educational differences. For example, if you attended college there is almost a 50 percent chance that one of your siblings did not (and vice versa).[6]

What do sibling disparities as large as these indicate? They imply an American landscape where class identity is ever changing and not necessarily shared between brothers and sisters. Taken as a whole, the above statistics present a starkly darker portrait of American family life than we are used to. We want to think that the home is a haven in a heartless world. The truth is that inequality starts at home. These statistics also pose problems for those concerned with what seems to be a marked erosion of the idealized nuclear family. In fact, they hint at a trade-off between economic opportunity and stable, cohesive families.

While it may be surprising to realize how common sibling inequality is on the whole, my analysis of national data shows that Americans are quite aware of sibling disparities within their own families. For instance, when given a choice of fourteen categories of kin ranging from parents to grandparents to spouses to uncles, a whopping 34 percent of respondents claimed that a sibling was their most economically successful relative. When the question is flipped, 46 percent of respondents report a sibling being their least successful relative. Both these figures dwarf those for any other category.[7] When respondents were asked to elaborate about why their most successful relative got that way, their most common answer was a good work ethic (24.5 percent); when we add in other, related categories like "responsible, disciplined," "perseverance, motivation," or "set goals, had a plan," the total is well over half of all responses. Contrast that with the 22.6 percent that covers all categories of what might be called socioeconomic influences, such as "inheritance," "coming from a family with money," "marrying money," and so on. When accounting for the success of our kin, individual characterological explanations win out.

The pattern becomes even more striking when we flip the question to ask about the misfortune of the least successful relative. Only 9.6 percent of respondents cite social forces like poverty, lack of opportunity, or the pitfalls of a particular field as an explanation. Meanwhile, a whopping 82.4 percent cite individualistic reasons--having a "bad attitude" or "poor emotional or mental health." The single largest category was "lack of determination."[8]

That shows us how harsh we are on our brothers and sisters. Are we fair when we pass this kind of judgment, or terribly biased? I think the latter. In this book I challenge the perceived split between individual personality-based explanations for success and failure, and sociological ones. I argue that in each American family there exists a pecking order between siblings--a status hierarchy, if you will. This hierarchy emerges over the course of childhood and both reflects and determines the siblings' positions in the overall status ordering in society. It is not just the will of the parents or the "natural" abilities of the children themselves that determines who is on top in the family pecking order; the pecking order is conditioned by the swirling winds of society, which envelop the family. Gender expectations, the economic cost of schooling in America, a rising divorce rate, geographic mobility, religious and sexual orientations--all of these societal issues weigh in heavily on the pecking order between siblings. In other words, in order to truly understand the pecking orders within American families, you cannot view them in isolation from the larger economy and social structures in which we live. The family is, in short, no shelter from the cold winds of capitalism; rather it is part and parcel of that system. What I hope you end up with is a nuanced understanding of how social sorting works--in America writ large, and in your family writ small. And just maybe--along the way--we will all have a little more sympathy for our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

Who Gets Ahead?

Books about siblings debate why children raised by the same parents in the same house under the same circumstances turn out differently--sometimes very differently. They offer genetic explanations, or focus on birth order or the quality of parenting. The Pecking Order takes all these issues into account, but, based on years of research with three separate studies, it now moves us beyond those factors. Why is there a pecking order in American families, and how does it work? The reasons go way beyond relationships between family members. Americans like to think that their behavior and their destiny are solely in their own hands. But the pecking order, like other aspects of the social fabric, ends up being shaped by how society works.

In fact, siblings serve merely as a tool by which I hope to shed light on why some of us are rich and others poor; on why some are famous and others in America are anonymous. However, in figuring this all out, we do not gain much traction by comparing Bill Clinton with Joe Q. Public, Bill Gates with the average reader of this book, or any pair of randomly associated people. Some books tell you that the best way to understand why one person succeeds and another does not is to examine big amorphous categories like class or economics or race. I say the best way to do it is to examine differences within families, specifically to compare siblings with one another. Only by focusing in on the variety of outcomes that arise within a given family can we gain a real understanding of the underlying forces, of the invisible hands of the marketplace, that push each of us onto our chosen (or assigned) path in life. Siblings provide a natural experiment of sorts. They share much of their genetic endowment.[9 ]They also share much of the same environment. So it's logical to ask: how and why is it that some siblings end up in radically different positions in life? If we find an answer to that question, I think we will understand something very fundamental to American life.

NOTES

1. David Maraniss, First in His Class: The Biography of Bill Clinton (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), p. 424.

2. Ibid.

3. This is represented by 1 - R2S (where R2 is the square of the sibling correlation coefficient in log-income). Mary Corcoran, Roger Gordon, Deborah Laren, and Gary Solon estimate a brother-brother correlation in permanent income of .45 using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. See page 364 of their "Effects of Family and Community Background on Economic Status," American Economic Review 80 (1990): 362-66. Their estimates for women's sibling correlations in family income is .276 and .534 for men's log-earnings. (Gary Solon, Mary Corcoran, Roger Gordon, and Deborah Laren, "A Longitudinal Analysis of Sibling Correlation in Economic Status," Journal of Human Resources 26 [1992]: 509-34.) Sibling resemblance for other outcomes like welfare usage, education, and occupation follow similar patterns and are sensitive to the specification deployed--particularly for nonlinear measures. For example, if a woman's sister has received welfare, she is over three times more likely to use it herself (.66 versus .20 probability in their PSID sample). Differences for "persistent participation" in welfare programs by sibling welfare status are even greater. When I reanalyze more recent waves of PSID data--in which the siblings are on average older and more stable economically--I find that the sibling correlation has not changed much overall, but notably for sisters (see Dalton Conley, "Sibling Correlations in Socio-Economic Status: Results on Education, Occupation, Income and Wealth," working paper, Center for Advanced Social Science Research, New York University, 2003). The sibling correlation is .449 for the natural logarithm of brothers' income-to-needs ratio (slightly lower for log-income); for sisters the correlation in log-income-to-needs is .555. (It is .517 for all siblings). For sisters the total (logged) family income correlation (as contrasted to the logged income-to-needs ratio) is .508, significantly higher than the figure of .276 reported by Solon, Corcoran, Gordon, and Laren in their "A Longitudinal Analysis."

4. For the natural logarithm of total net worth (i.e., accumulated wealth minus debts), sibling correlations are .224 for all siblings, .239 for brothers, and .271 for sisters (Conley, "Sibling Correlations"). In this analysis, those with negative or zero net worth are set to zero on the log scale. This approach yields the highest sibling correlation between randomly selected adult siblings in the 2001 wave of the PSID. Correlations are not much different for other recent waves.

5. These probabilities come from table 4 in Solon, Corcoran, Gordon, and Laren, "A Longitudinal Analysis," 526.

6. The actual figure is a .48 probability that a randomly selected sibling of an individual who graduated from a four-year college will not have graduated. This result comes from analysis of the 2001 wave of the Panel of Income Dynamics (see Conley, "Sibling Correlations"). Daphne Kuo and Robert Hauser analyze the Occupational Changes in a Generation (OCG) survey data and find that for education, sibling differences (within-family variance components) for various age groups of black and white brothers range between 38 percent and 52 percent. (See Kuo and Hauser, "Trends in the Family Effects on the Education of Black and White Brothers," Sociology of Education 68 [1995]: 136-60.) In the PSID, I find a lower degree of sibling resemblance in education level (measured as a continuous variable from 1 to 17 years of schooling). The correlation coefficient for siblings in the 2001 wave is .429. For brothers it is .529, and for sisters it is .400. These correlations, when squared, imply a less robust within-family component than found by Kuo and Hauser. Likewise, one-quarter of sibling pairs in the Study of American Families diverge substantially in terms of the prestige of their jobs. ("Substantial" means the difference between a professional such as a lawyer or businessman, on the one hand, and a salesclerk or blue-collar worker on the other.) In the PSID, the sibling correlation in 2001 occupational prestige is only .225 for sisters, .302 for brothers, and .233 for all siblings (Conley, "Sibling Correlations").

7. These results come from analysis of the Study of American Families.

8. These data come from the GSS-SAF survey. People may be more likely to explain others' relative success with outside social factors than individual attributes in order to lessen the taste of the sour grapes.

9. It is generally said that siblings (other than identical twins) share 50 percent of their genes (the same degree of similarity as with their respective parents); however, this is only true if parents were randomly assigned to mate with each other. The reality is that there is a process called assortative mating where reproductive mates select each other based on traits that have some sort of genetic basis. This assortative mating can result in a lower than 50 percent genetic similarity among siblings if "opposites attract." More likely, however, it results in a greater than 50 percent similarity since parents are positively matched on attributes and thus are contributing some of the "same" genes to their offspring, reducing the variability and increasing the similarity between their children (and themselves). These issues will be discussed in greater detail in the sections that follow.

— Kellie Bartlett
Chronicle of Higher Education

http://chronicle.com/prm/daily/2005/04/2005042804n.htm


INDEX OF RESEARCH THAT COUNTS


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.