Bickering with your brother or sniping at your sister? Sibling rivalry might get vicious but it could benefit you later in life.
A zoological study conducted by Macquarie University shows how, in nature, big families can increase the sociability of offspring, strengthening their connections with others later in life.
Social networks are crucial to survival in animals and humans alike, and they also make it easier to find a mate and reproduce.
Macquarie University’s study focused on zebra finches, a native Australian bird living in the wild near Broken Hill in western NSW.
Comparing individuals’ sociability and correlating it to the number of siblings suggested family size may explain part of the variation.
Researcher Simon Griffiths thinks it has something to do with the stress caused by competition for food.
This may desensitise individuals early on to the presence of others, making them less picky about who they hang out with later.
“This study explains why there is variation in how social these birds are. Sociability is an important aspect of an individual’s personality and can shape its ability to gain resources and mates throughout its life,” Professor Griffith says.
“While we can’t yet explain why stress in early life leads to more sociability, this study builds on the evidence that early developmental conditions determine social behaviour and social structures.”
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