Does being the eldest child make people highly intellectual, people pleasing, perfectionists? Are the middle children always impatiently competing for parental attention by rebelling against the rules? Are all last-born children the spoiled, selfish, favorites? Birth order, a highly controversial topic, is defined as the dynamics of an individual’s place in the family compared to that of their siblings. Birth order has been in a fiery discussion for over one hundred years; some say it’s the very foundation of each one of our personalities, while others claim that the margin of error is just too wide for these coincidental patterns to bear any meaning.
Alfred Alder, the first to study birth order and the family dynamics that go with, used the term “family constellation” to describe the personality patterns seen in families. Alder gave rise to the idea that the family position a child is born into genuinely manipulates their personality (Wood). The birth order theory seems to neither stand up to nor fall to its critics, but why?
The stereotypical eldest child is one that is a people pleasing perfectionist who is undoubtedly smart and can be trusted and relied upon. Typically, the first born is the most dominant of all the children simply because they feel dominant to their younger counterparts. Many studies have come to prove that the eldest child is undoubtedly the model child. Take for example this Norwegian study that revealed the eldest children as the smartest of all with a three point IQ difference between them and their next eldest siblings. This point gap is not entirely surprising because first born children are expected not only to achieve the highest grades, but also set examples and keep their siblings in ...
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...s have leaned toward this theory shaping our life before we even pop out of the womb, they cannot pin every family down to the statistics. The fact is families are too complex, too messy, and too full of emotions, moods, and competitiveness. These dense, tangled vines of family dynamics are better understood by the people in the think of them than by observers through the laboratory window.
Kluger, Jeffrey. “The Power of Birth Order.” Time Magazine Oct. 2007: n. pag. Web. 01 March 2011.
Murphy, Samantha. “The Effects of Birth Order on Personality.” N.p. 2005. Web.01 March 2011.
Neal, Rome. “Personality Traits Linked To Birth Order.” The Early Show – CBS News. N.p. 11 June 2002. Web.
Tierney, John. “The Myth of the Firstborn,” Science Magazine, Dec. 1983: 16. Print
Wood, Danielle. “How Birth Order Affects Personality.” 2006. Web. 01 March 2011.
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