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Effects of family configuration on cognitive functions and health across the adult life span
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Psychology.
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines whether childhood family configuration influences performance on cognitive functions and health in adulthood and old age. All studies examined participants in the Betula Prospective Cohort Study aged 35 to 85 years (Nilsson et al., 1997). Study Ι established whether there are reliable effects of sibship size and birth order in a large sample of participants in adulthood and old age. The results showed that the effects previously demonstrated in children and adolescents (e.g., Belmont & Marolla, 1973; Mercy & Steelman, 1982) have a long-lasting effect and can be demonstrated in an adult sample. These studies concluded that intelligence and executive functioning decreased as the sibship size increased. Birth order, in contrast, had only influenced executive functions and working memory: earlier born siblings performed at a higher level than later born siblings. Study ΙΙ examined whether the effects of sibship size and birth order can be replicated and extended to episodic memory and whether the effects of family configuration are stable over a five-year interval. The results showed that early born siblings and siblings belonging to a smaller sibship size performed at a higher level and that these effects on both recall and recognition were stable over a five-year interval. Study ΙΙΙ explored whether childhood family configuration influences chronic adult diseases (myocardial infarction and circulatory disorders, stroke, and hypertension). The overall results showed that being born in a large sibship is a risk factor for stroke, myocardial infarction /circulatory disorders, and hypertension in old age. The results also suggest that being born early in a sibship is a predictor of stroke.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Samhällsvetenskaplig fakultet , 2007. , 93 p.
Keyword [en]
Sibship size, birth order, intelligence, executive functioning, episodic memory, health, diseases, adulthood, old
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1446ISBN: 978-91-7264-453-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-1446DiVA: diva2:141091
Public defence
2007-12-14, 1031, Norra beteendevetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-11-22 Created: 2007-11-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Intelligence and executive functioning in adult age: effects of sibship size and birth order
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Intelligence and executive functioning in adult age: effects of sibship size and birth order
2006 (English)In: European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, ISSN 0954-1446, E-ISSN 1464-0635, Vol. 18, no 1, 138-158 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Several studies have demonstrated that social influences from having been brought up in a family with few siblings and early in birth order result in higher scores on intelligence tests in childhood and adolescence as compared to having been brought up in large sibships. The present study examined whether influences of such social factors would have long-lasting effects on intelligence (block design and word comprehension) and executive functions (working memory and verbal fluency) in adulthood and old age, i.e., long after the individuals had moved out of the family structure they were born in. After having controlled for socioeconomic status and a variety of health conditions affecting cognition in adult life, a sibship size effect was demonstrated for executive functions but not for intelligence. The social influences of birth order affected only executive functions and working memory in particular; earlier born individuals performed better than later born individuals in tests assessing executive function but not in tests assessing intelligence. Implications for the relationship between executive functioning and intelligence, and implications for the Confluence and Resource Dilution Models (Blake, 1981; Downey, 1995, 2001; Zajonc, 1976) are discussed. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2807 (URN)10.1080/09541440500216150 (DOI)
Available from: 2007-11-22 Created: 2007-11-22 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
2. Episodic memory in adult age and effects of sibship size and birth order: Longitudinal data
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Episodic memory in adult age and effects of sibship size and birth order: Longitudinal data
2007 (English)In: Journal of Adult Development, ISSN 1068-0667, E-ISSN 1573-3440, Vol. 14, 37-46 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2007
Keyword
Sibship size, Birth order, Episodic memory, Adulthood and old age
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2808 (URN)10.1007/s10804-007-9029-0 (DOI)
Available from: 2007-11-22 Created: 2007-11-22 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
3. Sibship size and birth order as predictors of heart-related diseases
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sibship size and birth order as predictors of heart-related diseases
Show others...
(English)Manuscript (Other academic)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2809 (URN)
Available from: 2007-11-22 Created: 2007-11-22 Last updated: 2011-01-27Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • Other locale
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Output format
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