How Birth Order Affects Personality
3 mins read

How Birth Order Affects Personality

For years, the scientific community and the public have been fascinated by the question of whether there are real effects depending on a person’s position among siblings (or lack thereof – these studies also include only children).

The TikTok account AsapSCIENCE, run by Mitchell Moffitt and Gregory Brown, explored the psychology behind birth order.

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Firstborn

“Firstborns tend to be more successful academically,” Moffit said. “(They have) a stronger sense of responsibility and maturity, and better leadership skills.”

“They tend to get a lot more attention in the early years, especially compared to their siblings,” Moffit continued. “But they also have much higher expectations from their parents.”

middle siblings

“Cooperative, flexible and outgoing,” Moffit said, describing the middle-aged siblings. “They tend to make friends easily. They are less competitive and ambitious because they don’t get as much attention as their older siblings. They seek attention in other relationships and friendships.”

The youngest sibling

“The last-borns tend to be charming, likeable and more creative,” Moffit said. “They have a really strong sense of security and self-confidence, but they are less responsible and mature than their siblings.”

“Because parents are much more confident at this stage, they are much more lenient and expectations tend to be lower,” Moffit continued.

Only children

“You tend to be capable and resourceful academically, creative and more mature, but you hate mess and like to have everything under control,” Moffit said.

“Never feel bound by these labels!” AsapSCIENCE left in the comments section of the video. “They were based on an interesting meta-analysis and may or may not apply to you.”

Birth order theory originated with psychotherapist Alfred Adler, who in the early 20th century suspected that birth order could create specific characteristics and differences in siblings. Personality traits resulted from the way parents treated each child—for example, the firstborn child was usually the most neurotic child because of how much attention and care they received from their parents early in life, while the youngest child was more rebellious and independent.

As with most popular psychology teachings, there are doubts as to whether this is reliable. Of course, there are examples where firstborn children are the black sheep of the family or the middle child shows leadership qualities.

But there is research that suggests Adler was right. A 1968 study found that firstborns are less likely than their younger brothers and sisters to participate in dangerous sports because they are more cautious and afraid of injury. A 1980 study also found lower anxiety levels and higher egos in firstborns.

Moreover, it goes without saying that other external circumstances such as gender, socioeconomic status, age difference between siblings, and the number of siblings also influence personality.

Do you like personality tests? Find out what your Myers-Briggs type says about you.

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