Did You Know....

Does Birth Order Influence Your Personality?


You've probably heard of this concept before. First born children are often described as "bossy" or "responsible," while last-born children are sometimes described as "irresponsible" and "impulsive." But how true are these common stereotypes?

For decades, pop psychology books touted the effects of birth order on personality, but hard evidence on the phenomenon remained elusive until recently. A few recent empirical studies have found that such things as birth order and family size may indeed have an impact on personality. One study, conducted by Ph.D. student Joshua Hartshorne of Harvard University, even found that birth order can influence your choices of friends and romantic partners; first-borns tend to associate with other first-borns, middle-borns with other middle-borns and last-borns with last-borns.

Alfred Adler (1870-1837) was one of the primary contributors of birth order ideas and research to the then-new field of psychology and was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, which. Jung viewed Alder's concepts as the Extraverted theory and Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory was Introverted, where both (according to Jung) were therefore reflections of their own personalities. Adler and Jung both left Freud's "Psychoanalytic Society" at the same time and the fractured relationship between the three gave Jung the ingredients for his departing speech before the Psychoanalytic Congress in Munich Germany in September of 1913. In that speech Jung first described the concept of Introversion and Extraversion as explanations for Freud and Adler's theoretical positions, and was the foundation for what later became Jung's book, Psychological Types. In his farewell speech, he concluded that there remained the "difficult task of creating a psychology which was equally fair" to both theories.

Hartshorne, J. K. (2010). How birth order affects your personality. Scientific American. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ruled-by-birth-order

Hartshorne, Joshua K., Nancy Salem-Hartshorne & Timothy S. Hartshorne. (2009) Birth order effects in the formation of long-term relationships. Journal of Individual Psychology, 65(2).

Downey, D. B. (2001). Number of siblings and intellectual development: The resource dilution explanation. American Psychologist, 56(6–7), 497?504.

Wichman, A. L., Rodgers, J. L., & MacCallum, R. C. (2006). A multilevel approach to the relationship between birth order and intelligence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 117?127.