Alfred Adler was an Austrian medical doctor, psychotherapist and founder of the school of individual psychology. It was also his work on the inferiority complex that got him worldwide recognition. He was a friend of Dr. Sigmund Freud and it was his thesis that birth order influenced the personality of an individual.
Now, what is the question and what do we mean by it?
Have you ever heard someone say “It’s no surprise that Joe is a responsible person; after all he was the oldest among his siblings” or how so-and-so was always the typical middle child?
Well, according to Alfred Adler and few others, the order in which one is born in a family of multiple children affects one’s personality and gives them certain character shaping traits that affect them later on in life.
The oldest child
According to Adler, the eldest of siblings are power oriented and conservative. Because they often have to care for their younger brothers and sisters, they become more nurturing and more willing to be parents too.
They also appear to be more conservative, power-loving and goal-oriented, and incline towards leadership. Being a firstborn makes them want to be the first at everything.
The middle child
Because the older sibling is always the so-called pace-maker, the second one finds it difficult to surpass him or her, which is why the middle child tends to be very ambitious. Being that way, the might set higher personal goals than others.
With being the middle child, their chances of being selfish are usually pretty low.
And given failures are inevitable in life, they turn out quite resilient and cope with hardships better.
The youngest child
The youngest child grows up getting a lot of care and attention from the family and might be spoiled, so becoming independent might be harder for them. But they also have a particular urge to surpass their siblings and often grow up to achieve great fame in their chosen fields.
They find very unique ways of self-expression and make great artists. They are also the most social, but at the same time fickle and a bit careless.
By being the youngest one, they get away with everything. That is why later on in life they might become manipulative.
The only child
Since they are an only child, they get more attention than others by everyone around. The constant pampering might make them more dependent on others. As to some it might look like spoiling, the amount of affection and attention they get helps them and makes them feel better about themselves. That and the lack of competition makes them strive for perfection and nothing less.
Self-centered and difficulty to communicate with their associates might be another characteristic of the only child.
How does birth order affect IQ scores?
The theory that birth order influences the individual’s IQ is a recent and popular development and not to mention subject of debate among researchers.
Researchers from the University of Leipzig and Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz conducted tests on around 20,000 American, British and German adults. They did this study to find out how eldest siblings tend to have a higher IQ than their younger brothers and sisters.
However, researchers found no relation between birth order and emotional stability or between birth order and imagination or creativity.
The effect on personality
Another study tested 377,000 children from American high schools.
The study revealed how oldest siblings tend to be more dominant and more honest, but lack social skills and resistance to stress.
Middle children tend to be very punctilious while the youngest ones tend to be the most open and social.
Only children however tend to be more anxious and nervous, but also have good social skills and are friendly.
Is birth order that important?
Some of the findings from the studies does not show to be 100% accurate.
The researchers didn’t take in consideration things like race, ethnicity, education, nurture, family’s financial circumstance, general upbringing, history of abuse, relationship with the parents and many more.
No matter how much of an effect birth order has on our personalities, it is very obvious that parent-child relationship, sibling-sibling relationship and in general the situation of the household is of a very big importance in shaping the individual.