Birth Order and Happiness Study

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II. Literature Review:
The purpose of this study is to examine and compare the differences in happiness levels among first borns, second borns, middle borns, and last borns in our society. Many previous studies have been conducted in the past on the relationship between birth order and happiness/life satisfaction. These previous studies can be used for developing main hypotheses for this study. In addition to using these studies for developing the main hypotheses, these studies can be used to possibly predict the final outcomes of this psychological study.

The most relative study from the past that was already conducted comes from Birth Order and Happiness: A Preliminary Study by G. Hugh Allred & Bernard E. Poduska. This study was part of a larger project, that investigated the differences on happiness scores among first born, second born, middle born, and last born while controlling for sex and family size. Before this study there were no empirical studies to be found relating to this topic besides those dealing with birth order and personality.

In this study, a stratified and random sample of 88 subjects, from three different sections of Provo and Orem, Utah, were given surveys. The selected family income was below the median for family income in one section selected. In the second selection, family income was at the states median and for the third selection family income was above the median. Within each of these sections, families were selected at random and contacted by telephone. Those who decided to participate were invited to the Financial Counseling Clinic at Bringham young and then asked to complete the assessment instruments. Only those subjects who came from families with four or more children were included in the study in order to provide for an analysis of the birth order variables. The subjects in the study consisted of 4 first born males and 8 first born females, 11 second-born males and 8 second born females, 24 middle born males and 20 middle born females, and 5 last born males and 8 last born females. The majority of these subjects were between 25 and 45 years of age.

As stated before, each subject was administered the assessment instruments at Brigham Young University. One of the questions on the assessment, which was seen as the focus of the report, asked the subjects to compare themselves to the perceived happiness levels of their fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters on the items of health, current marriage, current family, extended family, in-laws, friends, religion, financial security, and life in general. For these questions a seven point scale was used with one being the low score, seven the high, and the midpoint of four indicating that their perceived happiness was the same.

Since there was no other literature that compared one’s happiness with the perceived happiness of one’s family members this study added a great deal to the non-existent body of knowledge. The results of the study showed that last born males scored consistently lower than all other male birth order, except for the “in-laws” area. Last borns scored lowest and separated themselves out the most from the other male birth orders in areas of “financial security,” “employment,” and “life in general.” Results showed that first born males scored higher than all other male birth orders on five of the items. As for the women, last borns scored lower on every subject except for one. In addition to this, very different from men, first born females scored consistently lower than both second born and middle born females.

One of the most important things taken from this study is the similar pattern of both male and female last borns. Both scored lower than any of the other same-sex birth orders on the almost all of the happiness scales. This finding shows that last born male and females are typically unhappier than their firstborn, second born, or middle born siblings. The group contributed these...
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