Psychology and Birth Order

Topics: Birth order, Big Five personality traits, Psychology Pages: 11 (4019 words) Published: March 26, 2014


The Lasting Impact of Birth Order

Abstract
There is extensive research that pertains to the lasting impact birth order and family size have on an individual’s life. However, there have been few concrete conclusions that can explain how birth order affects one’s development and personality. Previous studies have focused on a connection between birth order and education, employment earnings, and delinquency rates, but have failed to convince researchers of a connection between birth order and social development. More recent research shows birth order has a significant impact on behavior and character traits. By compiling several different research conclusions from various studies, it becomes clear that birth order plays a significant role throughout the life of a human being. Studies show that variables such as intellect, delinquency, and even psychiatric disease have all been linked to birth order. In addition, research shows that first born children handle situations much differently than later born siblings and are more likely to have different lifestyles because of it. Furthermore, there is an evident connection between personality and age range among siblings. Children that are born much closer in age are more likely to have more obvious differences between their social skills and personalities than siblings who are born more than five years apart. While the evidence shows that differences can be both positive and negative, it is apparent that many personality traits have more biological roots than once believed.

The Lasting Impact of Birth Order
In the early 1970’s, extensive research changed how psychology viewed birth order and social development. While birth order remained a variable since the 1880’s, no concrete conclusions were drawn to connect it to social development. Previous research concluded that birth order had very little impact on personality or character traits and contrary assumptions were false (Jefferson, Herbst, & McCrae, 1998). However, research on the subject continued to go on and many new observations and theories were made. While most scientists and researchers agree that social development differences come from a blend of genetic and environmental variables, there have been many differences in how birth order is perceived to impact many different aspects of development. New research shows substantial evidence that birth order plays a major role throughout the life of a human being (Dixon, Reyes, Leppert, & Pappas, 2008; Booth & Kee, 2009). It is the purpose of this paper to evaluate new research and observe theories and conclusions that show evidence in reference to the influence of birth order on the developing person. It is important and practical to understand this connection because it has a direct effect on all families. Many families debate on the number of children they desire and how much age difference should be between each. For example, a middle child may be a skeptic of having another middle child because they understand some of the disadvantages. Similarly, an only child may want a large family to ensure their children have relationships with siblings. Whatever the case, most parents see an importance in the number of children they have and the birth order of their children. Birth order has been linked to intelligence, delinquency, and psychiatric disease (Marini & Kurtz, 2011). How people handle situations and make life decisions can also be linked to the order they are born in their family. It is important for couples to consider this recent research when planning a family because of the new research’s conclusion that a person’s overall personality can be connected to birth order (Szobiova, 2008). One large part of understanding development deals with personality. Studies involving birth order and personality have gone on for decades. Only recently have some new findings changed how some psychologists feel about the...

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