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People With a Disabled Sibling Have More Empathy, According to Psychology

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  • The physical distance between the figures;
  • The presence or absence of a parent in the image;
  • Amount of detail invested in either the self-portrait or the sibling representation, and;
  • Amount of support given to a sibling in the picture.

The children also filled out a Sibling Relationship Questionnaire, which asked questions about their closeness, dominance, conflict, and rivalry with siblings. Researchers then analyzed the children’s artwork and questionnaires, in addition to questionnaires completed by the children’s mothers.

They discovered that the children who had siblings with intellectual disabilities scored much higher on empathy, teaching, and closeness. They also scored lower on conflict and rivalry in sibling relationships than those with neurotypical siblings.


Prof. Zaidman-Zait concludes that having a disabled family member makes the rest of the family more empathetic towards others’ needs.

Final Thoughts About How Having a Disabled Sibling Increases Empathy

Caring for others keeps society functioning and makes life worth living in this world. We’ve survived for millennia by cooperating to solve problems, and it’s no different in the modern era.

Studies have shown that caring for a disabled sibling increases empathy and consideration for others. Of course, many people without disabled siblings are empathetic and want to help others. But, looking after someone with a disability can help foster kindness at an early age.

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