Personality and Birth Order

Topics: Personality psychology, Birth order, Psychology Pages: 7 (2053 words) Published: October 9, 2011
Personality and Birth Order

Nithiya Sabapathy



9 December 2010

SEGi University College


The intention of this research paper is to study the connection of birth order with one’s personality. Numerous research were carried to test the impacts of birth order on a person’s personality mainly by measuring the achievements within families, interaction skills, conformity levels, intelligence levels between siblings, and development of long-term relationships. Results reveal that among some of the distinguishing personality attributes of the firstborns are being high achievers, traditionalists, have higher interaction skills and reliable. Meanwhile, later-borns are identified as being rebellious, broad-minded, hostile, and agreeable. The implications of birth order are further discussed.

Personality and Birth Order

Each and every one of us is unique in a way. Even though often times we share same interests with others we still do certain things in our own way which make us to stand out as different individuals. We have noticed that our very best friend (whom sometimes we consider as to be the extension of ourselves due to the common share of interests, likes and dislikes) deals with everyday life expectations and challenges differently form the way we do.

Why is it so? Well all of us have different personality which is fundamental in shaping our experiences, expectations, choices, opinions, achievements, and relationships. We have different personality traits due to various internal and external influential factors and one of the many factors is birth order. What does personality refers to?

Personality is defined as “the pattern of psychological and behavioral characteristics by which each person can be compared and contrasted with others” (Bernstein, Penner, Clarke-Stewart, & Roy, 2008, p. 550). According to Sigmund Freud (Bernstein, et al., 2008; Schultz & Schultz, 2009), personality can be divided into three different levels which are id, ego and superego. These three levels contribute to the interaction of unaware mental processes. He described that preconscious lies in between these three levels which stores unaware reminiscences that can be brought into awareness with the slightest effort or sometimes without any effort at all.

On the other hand, Gordon Allport came with his famous theory - the trait theory - to describe personality. Allport’s trait theory describes personality as a mixture of characteristics showed by people in various circumstances. Although, his importance on the distinctiveness of each person makes it difficult to produce generalized statements about human personality but many new studies were and are still carried out using the trait approach as fundamental to analyze human personality (Bernstein, et al., 2008).

Birth order is something that we commonly hear about. To what extent are we aware that it can influence our personality? Many researches were and are still carried out to explore about birth order and its effects on one’s personality. According to Schultz & Schultz (2009), birth order refers to the order one is born either as the older or younger sibling in a family.

The theory of birth order is contributed by Alfred Adler (Schultz & Schultz, 2009), who categorized birth orders into four major categories which are the first-born child, the second-born child, the youngest and the only child. Adler was highly interested in analyzing the birth order of a person according to their behaviors and mind-set because he believed that even though siblings were raised in the same house, they were exposed to different social and economical situations, and as well as different parenting style experiences.

Adler (Schultz & Schultz, 2009), defined the personality of first-borns as generally to be high achievers, traditionalist, and controlling while second-borns are to be confident, determined, and...

References: Ashby, J. S., LoCicero, K. A., & Kenny, M. C. (2003). The relationship of multidimensional perfectionism to psychological birth order. Journal of Individual Psychology, 59, 43-51. Retrieved December 6, 2010 from PsycARTICLES database.
Bernstein, D. A., Penner, L. A., Clarke-Stewart, A., Roy, E. J., (2008). Psychology (8th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
MacDonald Jr., A. P. (1971). Birth order and personality. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 36, 171-176. Retrieved October 5, 2010 from PsycARTICLES database.
Moran, G., (1967). Ordinal position and approval motivation. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 31, 319-320. Retrieved December 6, 2010 from PsycARTICLES database.
Paulhus, D. L., Trapnell, P. D., & Chen, D. (1999). Birth order effects on personality and achievement within families. American Psychological Society, 10, 482-488. Retrieved October 5, 2010 from PsycARTICLES database.
Schultz, D. P., & Schultz, S. E. (2009). Theories of personality (9th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Smith, E. E., & Goodchilds, J. D. (1963). Some personality and behavioral factors related to birth order. Journal of Applied Psychology, 47, 300-303. Retrieved October 5, 2010 from PsycARTICLES database.
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