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In competition with your brother or sister? New research reveals secrets behind academic sibling rivalry

New research at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, has uncovered deeper secrets hidden within the mystery of academic sibling rivalry.

Aston final year Human Psychology student, Julia Badger, conducted the research into how birth order influences an individual’s personality and the way they react to academic sibling rivalry. She focused her attention on academic sibling rivalry in particular after realising that only limited research has been published on this specific area.

Through extensive research Julia found that last born siblings are more likely to feel academic rivalry compared to first borns.

Julia also noted a distinct variation in the conscientiousness of first borns compared to last, with first borns being significantly more conscientious. First borns were also shown to be more dutiful.

Her research consisted of a sample of 46 people in total - males and females, each having only one brother or sister. Although her sample was fairly small her work raises possible implications in a variety of psychological domains including education, development, psychotherapy and health.

She also tested to see whether there was any evidence that first borns are less agreeable than last borns, to which there seemed to be no difference between the two. Her research also revealed that lastborns were more open to experiences, just not statistically so.

‘I’ve really loved researching into this topic because it is a very personal subject to me with my sister being three years older. It was our relationship which inspired me to look deeper into academic sibling rivalry.

‘Everyone else’s fascination with my work has given me great encouragement. It’s also been fantastic that other students have gained inspiration from it and can relate to it,’ said Julia.

Her research has just won an international research prize and a national award from the British Psychological Society (BPS). This was the prestigious BPS Student Members Group Poster Prize, which many undergraduate psychology students across the UK strive to win. Julia was short listed to the final eight before she was announced as the winner. The award ceremony was held at York University as part of the BPS annual Conference.

She has also come joint first in a similar competition held in the Czech Republic. She was joined by two other Aston University Psychology students, Georgina Groome and Jo Begley, who also presented their work at Masaryk University in the city of Brno, Czech Republic.

To listen to a podcast of Julia discussing her research please visit:

Hannah Brookes | alfa
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