What Your Birth Order Says About Your Personality, According To Science
If you've been on the iInternet in the past few years—basically if you haven't been living under a rock—you've most likely seen personality quizzes pop up in your news feed. It seems like everything from your eye color to where you were born supposedly has an impact on who you became as a person. But how accurate are these quizzes. Have you ever wondered what your birth order says about your personality?
Though TV and film love to poke fun at the archetypes of each sibling, there might be some truth behind it. Is Stephanie Tanner still competing for attention and constantly annoying big sister, DJ, on Fuller House? That's what middle children do, right? And the eldest kid seems like they always have to deal with the problems their younger siblings create, like Anna Kendrick's character in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Oh, and don't forget one of the oldest cliches in the book: the baby of the family gets all the things and bugs everyone around them. I mean, can we talk about Loki in the Thor movies? He basically lives to ruin his older brother's life and isn't happy until he has all the power. Classic youngest sibling trope.
But what about twins? A few minutes probably don't have the same impact as being years older than your sibling. Plus, twins get a bad rap for having a spooky, mental connection (think: The Shining), but is there any merit to that? Check out what the experts have to say on how your birth order affects your personality.
The First-Born Child
There's definitely a stereotype that the eldest child has a competitive in the academic and professional world due to a higher level of intelligence. But is there actually any proof to back the IQ claim up?
A recent study conducted by researchers at Germany’s University of Leipzig found an interesting bit of correlation. "One reason first-borns tend to have higher IQs might be because their parents are first-timers and are more prone to paying more attention to their only child and more likely to emphasize the importance of education," Julia Rohrer, who worked on the study, told TIME. So it turns out there is a reason why the oldest siblings act like know-it-alls, and why the youngsters tend to follow their lead.
The Middle Child
Jan from The Brady Bunch, Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World, and Alex from Modern Family all fit the bill of having middle child syndrome. Try as they might to reach the same level of achievement and attention that their older sibling gets, they will relegate themselves to a life out of the spotlight due to perceived preferential treatment from their parents to the eldest child.
According to a scientific paper in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, "Beliefs About Birth Order and Their Reflection in Realtiy," the majority of participants in the study felt, "middle-borns are the most envious and the least bold and talkative."
However, a paper in The Journal of Individual Psychology which reviewed over 200 birth order studies noted that one's perception of their birth order's traits doesn't necessarily need to be rooted in truth for them to truly feel their beliefs are legitimate. Still, the overall conclusion in The Secret Power of Middle Children co-written by Drs. Katrin Schumann and Catherine Salmon, was that because they felt overlooked and quite literally caught in the middle, then middle children are seen as over-achieving peacemakers.
The Youngest Child
Everyone knows that the baby of the family is seen as being spoiled, and older siblings often feel like the youngest can get away with things they never could have themselves. Is there a psychological basis for this?
"The youngest child may feel less capable and experienced, and perhaps is a bit pampered by parents," Alan E. Stewart, a University of Georgia psychologist, , told Psychology Today. "They may develop social skills that will get other people to do things for them, thus contributing to their image as charming and popular."
On the positive side, "Beliefs About Birth Order" additionally showed that, "last-borns are the most creative, emotional, extroverted, and talkative," among other things. Maybe being a touch spoiled isn't so bad if it leads to being super creative later in life.
The Only Child
There's a certain stigma about kids who have no siblings: they must be lonely. In a way, an only child is basically a first-born. But are they also the permanent baby of the family? How much do they share in common with the other birth orders, if anything at all?
According to a Northwestern University study published in The Personality Research Program, only children are similar to first-borns in their shared academic achievements and overall confidence. In fact, since an only child's parents don't have any other children vying for attention or resources, they receive the full benefits. Research conducted at Ohio State University published on their site posited, "as family size increases, parents talk less to each child about school, have lower educational expectations, save less for college, and have fewer educational materials available." So maybe being an only child isn't so bad after all.
You might think that twins would develop identical or extremely similar personality traits since they've grown up together, but that may not be the case. A research paper from Adler Graduate School found that twins will either view each other as competition—with one falling into the first-born position and the other as the middle child—or form an intense bond where both twins exhibit first-born personality attributes.
Additionally, there is a difference in the way identical twins and fraternal twins interact. Dr. Catherine Salmon, an associate professor in the psychology department at the University of Redlands, told Real Simple that there's "less competition between identical twins," but fraternal twins act more like traditional siblings.
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