Is Human Personality Dependent on Birth Order?

11:49 PM



Most of us are probably familiar with the middle-child syndrome which is a prevailing notion that a child or children sandwiched in between the eldest and the youngest are usually "forgotten" by parents in the matter of attention, privileges, and identity.  In terms of personality, they tend to go this way and that, having no clear idea of what he or she is expected to do in life.  Before this "condition" has been fully explored,  pop psychologists has again recently identified another - the first-born child syndrome.  

Pop psychologists or Popular psychologists  are not necessarily professional medical psychologists but may include people who project the image of being such, including lecturers, authors, and even entertainers, tackling topics pertaining to human psychology.  Some of the more popular examples of these are providers of self help books, advice columns or TV shows, urban legends and myths, and public perception.  Most of these have been offered in an effort to provide explanations of why people act or react in a certain way.

The syndromes mentioned above are related to a person's ranking by age in relation to his or her siblings.  There seems to be an existing belief that birth order affects psychological development to a large degree and this is sought to be proven by certain statistics provided by studies conducted on the subject.  Some of those worth mentioning include:

  • The eldest child will be the most likely to succeed academically because of high expectations set by parents. The extreme opposite which is the eldest being the biggest failure is also seen as a possibility due to the inability to respond well to the pressure.
  • The eldest child is seen as the most serious and least likely to have fun while the    youngest is the most likely to be relaxed and fun-loving.
  • The eldest child will most likely be given either the most privileges or the most responsibilities which will set the tone for either bossiness or leadership among siblings.
  • The middle child will always be an underachiever in all aspects of his life because of lowered expectations from parents as compared to expectations on the eldest child.
  • The youngest child will always have his or her way because parents are usually tired of setting rules by this time.

The above statements are just some of the results obtained from real-life parents but none has been proven to be generally conclusive so far.  While most are based on actual experiences, there is yet no clear scientific evidence that birth order per se, will determine a child's personality and destiny.  The environment in which a child is raised and how he or she is raised by parents still remain the major determinant of a child's future.  Even so, there is much emphasis placed on helping a child or person go beyond the limitations set by less-than-favorable family situations.

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33 comments

  1. I agree with some of the points given here, being a middle child but the eldest among the 3 girls, I was given the responsibilities to take care of my younger siblings when my mother was at work while our eldest who is the only boy spent most of the time playing outside. :(

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  2. Aha! Early signs of double standard...

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  3. Speaking from experience, there is a bit of truth to this. As the eldest, I've pretty much been the more serious one because growing up, I would always hear from my parents that I should be a good example to my brother. Failure is often not an option, and when that happens, it really hits hard. But, of course, there are other factors to take into consideration. Cultural heritage is one of them. Coming from a family that is part Chinese, I could say that my brother shares a bit of the seriousness and expectations because of tradition (the first son is always the next in line to the father, regardless of birth order). So in a sense, even though I'm the eldest, there are occasions when I also get to enjoy things that the youngest sibling would.

    As far as the middle child being the underachiever in the family, I beg to disagree. I have a good friend who is a middle child. Out of the three of them, he is the one that actually turned out to be the most successful: graduated from Stanford U and currently works in one of the top internet companies in the US.

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  4. Yes, Adeline, it is my personal belief as well that no one or nothing can dictate what we will become in the future and that includes birth order. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. I think there are personality traits common on age of rank though it's not an absolute rule depending on the upbringing. E.g. Eldest is more responsible, youngest is the more stubborn and pampered one.

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  6. Yes, i believe that human personality is dependent with their birth order. I also would like to add that middle children are usually attention seekers and has a really tough time ion building there self esteem. while the youngest are the one who are usually spoiled by their parents.

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  7. Just a thought Franc Ramon, can it be possible that people get personality traits based on common expectations?

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    1. Yes, expectations can also influence once traits though people take expectations differently

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  8. There are life experiences that people go through that reinforce the beliefs we have, Mavin.

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  9. hmmm I beg to disagree. I'm a middle child too. But I'm the achiever amongst us. But our youngest is really spoiled that one I agree with.

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  10. Just goes to show Violy that people will not be limited by perceptions based on birth order. Good for you!

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  11. Birth order isn't the only factor which influences one's personality, although it does affect it. So many other factors come into play, like the environment.

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  12. As a mom, I noticed the middle-child syndrome even before learning there's actually a syndrome for it. I noticed it from my own family, my friends' families and my own, even talked to friends with 3 kids and they experience the same.

    I think success is relative and so I can't really compare...but I can say I matured earlier than my older sibs, I'm the youngest, and though I felt I'm favored more, I didn't took it negatively.

    I guess this, a person's own trait and a handful more factors define one's personality...

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  13. i hope we equally give attention to our children needs, especially to their studies and overall welfare. Yahweh bless.

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  14. I can relate to some of the points stated above. As the youngest, I would say I had my share of privileges but not quite enough to make me a spoiled one.

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  15. I think it does.. on most part. I'm the youngest, and the description above practically sums it all up for me. But I still believe the up bringing is the biggest factor.

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  16. 2nd child syndrome.. kinda true.. pero parang in the middle of their lives, nastabilize din.. still unlike the achievements of the 1st born pero.. I guess it still boils down to their personalities.. there are always exceptions.

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  17. I don't agree in this. I mean, i am the eldest but and I got responsibilities alright but they don't pressure me 'coz I've set my own limits to them. This really depends on the kids and the people around them. I don't think it has anything to do with syndrome since my sister, who is next to me, is the most successful of all. And our youngest, my lil bro, is the one with the pressure.

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  18. I think that is why these studies are still not conclusive as it is not true to all families. I believe though that these occurrence depends greatly on how the family establish their relationships to each other. Like parents should treat the kids equal despite the birth order or what not.

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  19. hhmhmmmm i'm the middle child but all 3 of must, i must say we succeed in life when in comes to education. My eldest is a midwife by profession and I graduated as Bachelor of arts... my youngest is a policeman. i think it depends one the individuals perfective in life. If the person wants to succeed he/she'll try his best to succeed in life, if not that it's all up to him. It boils down to persons mentality of life.

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  20. i think it depends....but it's so interesting to know about the birth order really affects some family values. i'm the youngest of the family and my parents are more strict on me compare to my sibling. so i don't really agree with the idea of parents are becoming tired. so for me everything depends on the person and how they able to implement their rules on their kids.

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  21. There are some certain truth with whats being said in this post but it's up us (the parents) to beat what the others failed to do so. I do hope that raising the kids the right way will lead them to a happy adulthood. Environment they are expose play a big part too.

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  22. There are some points in our lives (us sisters) that we can tell these statements are true. i being the eldest, my parents were too giving that my sisters were left out, wearing my handed down clothing...and so on. I am as well given the biggest responsibility as my parents and younger siblings have a high expectation on me. I don't know though if i have ever met their expectations.

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  23. Eldest have a lot of responsibility to take care of the younger ones even your whole family...

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  24. Reading about this post of yours sis makes me look back at my past and present. Somehow, yung ibang statements were applicable when we were young and it eventually changed now that we are all grown up;)

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  25. I still say it does affect one, because there's those factors surrounding children and how they take it that defines them.

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  26. oh my! I think I agree! I;m the eldest, I tend to be bossy at times. Sadly, it's kinda depressing being a first born, so many expectations and responsibilities. =(

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  27. shrinks has always have something to say but never really proven. they have all these crazy ideas. i believe this is just natural behavior, i dont think there is a major study on these.. its part of growing up with siblings, there is always rivalry, but of course its up to the parents on how give equal attention to all his/her kids.

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  28. I think i agree with this. Being a parent now, I expect my eldest to be the most responsible because he should be the one in-charge when we are not around. :)

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  29. I don't really know that much since I am the only child. Never had a sibling before, but lots of cousins. I guess some of this could be true.

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  30. hmm... some of these may be true to others and some may not. I guess personality really depends on the environment, upbringing and is hereditary.

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  31. they say that it was indeed true but i guess it depends on how you were brought up and your surroundings too

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  32. For my own opinion your personality develop as you go along your life. People, society, work, the environment and such all have contributing factor on how you become.

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