Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Firstborn, middle child, or last-born: Birth order has only very small effects on personality

20.10.2015

Who we become only marginally correlates with our birth position amongst siblings. Psychologists from the universities of Mainz and Leipzig, Germany, came to this conclusion in a study recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

The question of whether a person’s position among siblings has a lasting impact on personality has occupied scientist for more than 100 years. Laypeople as well a scientist share a number of beliefs: Firstborns are supposedly perfectionists, for example, while middle children develop a talent for diplomacy and last-borns are expected to be rebellious.

To shed some light on the so far inconsistent findings on whether these differences actually exist, Professor Stefan Schmukle and Julia Rohrer of Leipzig University and Professor Boris Egloff of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) analyzed the data of more than 20,000 grown-ups from Germany, the USA, and Great Britain.

They found that central personality traits such as extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, and conscientiousness are not affected by birth-order position. Only regarding self-reported intellect small effects were found: Firstborns were more likely to report a rich vocabulary and less difficulty understanding abstract ideas.

These self-reports are not completely unfounded as the study confirmed the already known small decline in objectively measured intelligence from first- to last-born. "This effect on intelligence replicates very well in large samples, but it is barely meaningful on the individual level, because it is extremely small. And even though mean scores on intelligence decline, in four out of ten cases the later-born is still smarter than his or her older sibling," explained Schnukle.

"The real news of our study is that we found no substantial effects of birth order on any of the personality dimensions we examined. This does not only contradict prominent psychological theories, but also goes against the intuition of many people."

The study was made possible by multiple large longitudinal studies: the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) of the German Institute for Economic Research, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Child Development Study (NCDS) at the Centre of Longitudinal Studies of the University of London.

Publication:
Julia M. Rohrer, Boris Egloff, and Stefan C. Schmukle
Examining the effects of birth order on personality
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,
19 October 2015
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1506451112

Contact:
Professor Dr. Stefan Schmukle
Institute of Psychology
Leipzig University
phone +49 341 9735902
e-mail: schmukle@uni-leipzig.de
http://home.uni-leipzig.de/diffdiag/pppd/?page_id=101

Julia Rohrer
Institute of Psychology
Leipzig University
phone +49 174-4736433
e-mail: julia.rohrer@uni-leipzig.de

Professor Dr. Boris Egloff
Institute of Psychology
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
phone +49 6131 39-39156
e-mail: egloff@uni-mainz.de
http://www.ppd.psychologie.uni-mainz.de/62.php (in German)

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/14/1506451112.abstract

Susann Huster | Universität Leipzig

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Physics of bubbles could explain language patterns
25.07.2017 | University of Portsmouth

nachricht Obstructing the ‘inner eye’
07.07.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>