You must have heard from people about how the oldest kid in the family tends to be responsible, while those who have no siblings are more likely to be demanding and selfish. The question is, are these just stereotypes or is there truth behind it? Does our birth order shape our personality?
The theory about birth order began in the late 1920s with Sigmund Freud's friend, Alfred Adler. Adler believed your personality is affected by the order in which you are born into a family.
The First-Born Child
According to Adler, the first-born child tends to be power-oriented, conservative, and predisposed toward leadership. Since they usually take the responsibility for their younger siblings, the first-born child grow up to be willing to become parents, caring and they are more likely to take initiative.
The Second Child
Since the first-born child is a pace-setter for the second child, they usually struggle to surpass their older sibling. The pace of development is higher and the middle child in a family usually tends to be ambitious, and not selfish. They are also more likely to set very high goals for themselves. This then increases the number of failures, but knowing how to cope with difficulties in life is what makes them stronger.
The Last-Born Child
The youngest child gets a lot of attention and care from parents and older siblings. That is why they may feel less independent and experienced. But last-born children are usually highly motivated to surpass their older siblings. Usually they achieve a massive success and earn recognition in their chosen field. They also become the strongest athletes, the most talented artists, and the best musicians. The youngest children in a family tend to be very sociable and are likely to be more frivolous than their older siblings.
The Only Child
Without any siblings to compete with, the only child usually competes with his or her father. Being pampered by their parents, the only child expects protection and pampering from other people as well. Self-centeredness and dependency are the leading qualities of this style of life. The only child usually has difficulty interacting with peers. A lot of children who have no siblings become perfectionists and tend to achieve their goals no matter what.
How does it affect IQ scores?
The theory stating that the order in which you are born has an impact on your IQ level and personality has become very popular in the recent years. But it has also created a divide among researchers. Some dismiss the theory while others are convinced that it plays an important role. Researchers from the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and the University of Leipzig, both in Germany, studied more than 20,000 adults from America, Germany and the United Kingdom. In this study, researchers compared siblings within families and the order of their birth.
They found that older kids show higher performance on intelligence tests, however, the scientists found no birth-order effects on imagination and emotional stability.
How does it affect personality?
Another study showed evidence that birth order does in fact affect personality. The researchers analyzed the personality traits of 377,000 high school students in America.
What they found is that firstborns tend to be more dominant and honest, but are also less resistant to stress and have a tendency to be less sociable. Middle kids tend to be more diligent and conscientious. The youngest child in a family is more likely to be sociable and open. Those who are the only child usually feel nervous, but they are also quite social and outgoing.
But we have to admit that the results of the studies have a lot of inaccuracies. The research does not take into account important factors like education, ethnicity, welfare of the parents, and relationships within the family.
While birth order may have an impact on the personality or intelligence of a person, it should not be forgotten that parent-child relationships and the upbringing that children receive in the home are far more important factors in shaping their lives as individuals.
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