How does your birth order affect your personality?

Kirby Child
sr. front page editor

As the youngest of five kids, I’ve gotten used to being told by my older siblings that I have everything much easier than they did, and in some ways, I can attest to this.
Parents are often stricter on their oldest child, the “guinea pig” for them as they parent for the first time. “There’s a lot of responsibility and you have to be the mature one,” freshman Vivek Majumdar said.

Due to the undivided attention oldest siblings receive before another kid comes along, studies show that firstborns have a slight intellectual advantage (one or two IQ points) over younger siblings. According to The Washington Post, “The typical intelligence bonus from birth order is so small that “at an individual level it’ll never make a difference in your life.”

Whether it’s getting each kid to their respective sports practices, club meetings, musical rehearsals or other activities, parents with more than one child find their attention, money and time spread thinly, but usually evenly, between their children. Despite this, middle children usually say growing up they received the least attention. “As a middle child I often feel left out because my older sister gets everything she wants and my younger brother gets all my parents’ attention,” junior Sean Kim said.

The majority of the time, youngest children have more freedom growing up than their older siblings did. As a couple has more children, their kids wear them down, resulting in increased leniency, especially for the lastborn. Also, when older siblings move out, youngest children experience a new way of life. “I get to experience what it’s like to live at home with just my parents since my brother left for college,” sophomore Ellie Metz said.

Firstborns set the standards that their younger siblings will be expected to live up to or exceed, but younger siblings tend to veer toward a different path in life. According to Scientific American, “Firstborn and single children had less reason to quarrel with the status quo and identify more strongly with the worldview of their fathers and mothers. Younger siblings are less sure of their parents’ view and therefore more often choose alternative paths in life.”

Firstborns are usually more sensible and less rebellious than their younger siblings. According to The Washington Post, “A 1968 study showed that, compared with later borns, first borns are less likely to participate in dangerous sports because of fears of physical injury.”

When looking at all the studies, it is important to note that most birth order stereotypes are fallacies. “It is quite possible that the position in the sibling sequence shapes the personality—but not in every family in the same way,” Frank Spinath, a psychologist at Saarland University in Germany said.

Birth order affects every family differently, depending on the number of children in a family, the number of years between each kids, the gender of the kids, mental differences, and a number of other variables. Birth order does not have a specific influence on one’s extraversion, emotional stability, creativity, or agreeableness. According to Psychology Today, “birth order does not have a lasting effect on broad personality traits outside of the intellectual domain.”

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