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  • Writer's pictureYena Kim

Giving Birth to Personality

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

Ah, siblings.

They are often strange creatures that we have grown to love and cherish. Some of us may have them in our homes, but others may not see them at all. Some of us may have gotten into brutal fights with them, but others may only remember being spoiled by them. Whatever the case may be, they sure do a good job at making our lives a lot more interesting.

Now, consider the birth order of you and your siblings. Who was born first? Is there a middle child? What about the youngest? Have you ever felt like the order in which you were born in strongly influenced your personality?

If you nodded your head to the previous statement, then you are definitely not alone. In the 1920s, a famous psychologist named Alfred Adler was one the first people to theorize that birth order impacts one’s personality. He believed this to be true because parents usually treat their kids differently based on birth order. Adler’s theory focused on four basic positions: oldest, middle, youngest, and only.

The oldest child is believed to be...

  • Serious

  • Aggressive

  • Goal-oriented

  • Organized

  • Strict

The middle child is believed to be...

  • Natural mediators

  • Conflict avoiders

  • Highly loyal to the peer group

  • Even-tempered

  • Insecure

The youngest child is believed to be...

  • The entertainer of the family

  • A charming friend

  • Pampered the most

  • Manipulative

  • Control-seeking

The only child is believed to be...

  • Spoiled by parents

  • Highly independent

  • Similar to the oldest or the youngest child

Well, this is all great, but I know that some of you are already thinking that this theory slightly smells suspicious. Perhaps you are thinking that these birth order stereotypes hold little truth, and you may not be entirely wrong!

In a recent study, a couple of German researchers looked at over 20,000 adults from the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom in order to compare siblings both within the same family and people with the same birth order across families. The researchers tried to find a close connection between birth order and personality, but they could not discover anything noteworthy.

Of course, with that study alone, it is impossible to completely throw out Adler's theory. Having these conflicting ideas clearly calls for more research to be done on birth order. However, in the meantime, it probably wouldn't hurt to tell your siblings about Adler's theory and perhaps learning more about yourselves.


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