Does the order of birth affect a person's personality

Psychology: Sibling position hardly influences personality

Whether you are born first, stand in the middle between older and younger siblings or grow up as the baby of the family: none of this has much influence on a person's personality in adulthood. This is what psychologists from the universities of Leipzig and Mainz are now reporting. The researchers analyzed the data of more than 20,000 adults from Germany, the USA and Great Britain to see whether the order of birth within the family actually had an effect on certain character traits. For some time now, scientists and amateur psychologists have been speculating about whether firstborn babies are more prone to perfectionism, while the youngest children in the house are typically considered rebels.

The data from the German research team now show that in all three countries examined there is no connection between the sibling constellation and the personality traits extraversion, emotional stability, tolerance and conscientiousness. Firstborns apparently just think they are a little wiser and report more often that they have a large vocabulary and understand abstract ideas well when they are asked to provide information about themselves. Older siblings also have an advantage in terms of intelligence actually measured. As other studies have already shown, intelligence declines slightly from the first to the lastborn. "This effect on intelligence can be reliably found in large samples, but is not very meaningful on an individual level," says study author Stefan Schmukle from the University of Leipzig. If you compare two siblings with each other, the younger brother or sister would have the higher IQ in over 40 percent of the cases. In addition, the effects found are so small that they are presumably of little importance for life.