Impacts of birth order disputed

Stephanie Tingas, Staff Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

It is no coincidence that first born children aren’t always similar to their younger counterparts. The controversial topic of birth order affecting children’s’ personalities and their success notes that one’s personality, success and direction in life is derived from the order in which they were birthed.

According to studies, the oldest child tends to do well in school and be well achieved in leadership positions. “Firstborns tend to be responsible, competitive and conventional, whereas later borns have to ‘distinguish’ themselves and create a specific niche by being playful, cooperative and especially, rebellious,” Belgian psychologists Vassilis Saroglou and Laure Fiasse wrote in a 2003 paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Middle children possess traits such as loyalty, agreeableness and tend to be the family-peacekeeper. “Because middle children are often stuck in the middle, quite literally, they tend to be great negotiators and compromisers,” Dr. Kevin Leman, a psychologist and author of “The First-Born Advantage,” told The Huffington Post.

The youngest children are usually rebellious, attention seeking, free spirited and creative. Even though it is a thought that since the youngest children are more rebellious, they are more problematic, it is proven by many scientific studies that there is not a direct correlation to a higher rate of delinquency.

Although, in more recent years, the studies of psychological effect on birth order have been more thorough, “there is no way to truly state that birth order directly affects people’s direction in life. This is due to the pure fact that no person is the same,” psychology teacher Dan Saken said.

“The psychology term, ‘confirmation bias,’ refers to the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. Therefore, pro birth order psychologists pick and choose examples of siblings that furthers and backs up their point. No matter what, studies are never 100% accurate,” Saken said.

Children who have both parents are different from those who grow up in a one parent households, which has a direct effect on the amount of attention paid to them. This idea is also different when applied to children who are adopted. Twins, or any multiple childbirths can lead to different outcomes of birth order experiments. Also, not every family has a clear older, middle and youngest child.

Additionally, children with no siblings are always first borns so there is no clear way to determine which traits they exhibit. Likewise, with families that have more than three kids, there’s one oldest child, but multiple middle children which leads to a split in the comparability of personalities.

Melissa Curtis, another psychology teacher at Elk Grove expresses that research is all over the place because of the misconception that everyone is alike. Personality and behavior is dependant on parental investment time, economics and the amount of siblings one has.

“After years of research on this, there’s little evidence,” Curtis said. “The main reason is economic, and in that, it affects the kids in the family’s future.

The crucial variables of birth order impacting personalities are the household’s economic status, education, parenting type and pure environment.

“Bottom line: humans are all different, therefore it is illogical to try to group children into stereotypical personality types based on birth order,” Saken said.