In comparison to all my friends families growing up my family is large. Most families had three children, maybe four maximum and we had six. In the birth order of my sibling I’m the second to youngest. Does that make me have the qualities associated with the youngest child, or am I just an awkward in-between along with Sean (the third) and Adria (the fourth)? When trying to match the typical first, second, and third child personalities to my own family the lines seem to blur on who the middle child is because there is an even amount of us.
Being that the typical personality traits are set for usually three children results could be different when more siblings are applied. For example, would the oldest child personality traits become stronger the more children were born? I also seek to find what the tested result on how birth order effects personality because it’s easy to hear from word of mouth how a specific family birth order personality runs but that doesn’t make it true for all others. The first article I came across on this topic was “Some Personality and Behavioral Factors Related to Birth Order” by Ewart Smith and Jacqueline Goodchilds of Serendipity Associates.
Instead of using exact numbers of children i. e. second born and third born they use the terms “first-born” and “later-born. ” In their experiment Smith and Goodchild pose the hypothesis that first born subjects will be higher than later borns on conformity, formal rank, task efficiency, and perceived clarity within a social group setting. The two are inspired by the birth order work of Schacter, which focuses on the behavior of the first born. The subjects used in the experiment were 165 Los Angeles firemen from various fire houses.
Each participant was given a self-questionnaire and then asked to answer a discussion driven question. Each behavior traits being tracked were measure in different ways. Self-confidence was measured by the K scale from (Meehl and Hathaway, 1946). The conformity measurement was obtained from the questionnaire. Perceived clarity was measure by “an 18-item Likert-type Role Clarity scale” which asks questions about how each member perceives their own group. Formal rank was based off how high of a position each firemen held and task efficiency was obtained from the discussion driven question.
The result were in line with Schacter’s work being that first borns conform more than later when in large groups. Results also agree to Schacter’s in the case of first born children and role clarity. It’s important it note that though the results were in favor for the larger groups of firemen, in the smaller groups differences between first born and later born were not significant. The next article focuses on how the birth order effects dependency. In “Birth Order and Dependency” by Ralph H. Stewart He seeks to find differences within personality tests given to four children that represent four of the birth orders.
Five groups of twenty subject were selected from volunteer male students at the University of California, Los Angeles. The students who were selected fit the following requirements; had at least two other siblings, had lived with both parents until at least 15, and had a father in “white collar” careers. Each group was arranged to have a certain birth order rank. For example group one had only the “youngest brother of brothers. ” Each group was taken in an administered three tests, the international checklist (administered twice), The Barron items, and the Embedded Figures test.
The results showed only significant differences in the embedded figures test, which is meant to figure the field dependence of a participant. In Stewart’s discussion he states that it’s not clear why only significant results were shown in that test. Rationalizing the results by saying the other test may have been “susceptible to conscious manipulation and distortion. ” Our third article called “The Relationship of Birth Order and Sex of Siblings to Gender Role Identity” by Karen Vroegh addresses how birth order in combination with their sex results in how one perceives gender roles.
Through past studies she find that the presence of either a same sex or opposite sex siblings provide roles younger sibling look up too for guidance. This guidance can also determine how a young follows through gender roles. The subjects used were white girls and boys from preschool, elementary, and junior high in an upper-middle class suburb. Within each age level groups of most masculine boys, least masculine boys, and least feminine girls, and most feminine girls were put into groups.
Birth order and sex of siblings were then obtained from school records of the children participating. The results of this study showed that sex of older siblings without regard to sex of younger sibling and sex of siblings without regard to birth order have no effects on gender role identity of boys or girl in preschool or in grades two through eight. In our last article called “Sex Order of Birth and Personality” by M. F. Ashley Montagu She writes about her past education and previous studies that have been done on the topic.
She begins by stating that when taken alone the sex order of birth tells nothing about personality but should be carefully considered as a single factor. The then describes the case of a growing family and how personality throughout the first born and later borns adapt to new additions within the family. The first born of the family was alone for three years until a new baby arrived and the first child showed an “appreciable outcropping of jealous behavior”. As the younger brother grew his natural kind and generous behavior was effected by the way his older brother treated him.
He slowly stated to become more jealous and defensive like his older brother. Had the younger brother been born a girl the older brother’s disposition to the new addition hay have been different. A third child was eventually born into the family, this time a girl. Her personality was also effected by the brother’s rivalry, and in result she adopted many of their traits. It is also important to note that the parents of these three children promote free expression of hostility toward themselves and aggressive responses among the children are not usually suppressed.
Montagu begins to close out her article with the conclusion that sex order of birth in which children stand is a relationship of importance in the development of the personality. She states that further investigation should be taken. She also takes special attention to the personality of the first born as did our first article. She mentions how many parents have seemed help from her about their troubled first borns and their “selfish” personalities. She goes on to express how much stress and change a first born can go through.
Taking in all of the information gathered from the studies and options of the psychologists above I try to apply them to my own experience. Because two of the articles analyzed focuses on the first born I look to analyze my own oldest brother and conclude that he indeed has a very different personality compared to the five other siblings. Some may describe him as “off” or “weird” but many other variable can play role in his personality. I think that is why results seem to be clearer when looking at large sample sizes like in Smith and Goodchilds study.
Too many variable can effect ones personality and to be able to see any significant difference when it comes to birth and sex order. Only when enough participant are used do results start to vary. When looking back at my questions asked in the introduction it’s almost impossible to provide an answer just from four articles. There are so many ways sex and birth order studies can be combined to provide new information. The evidence clearly supports the direct relationship between personality and birth order but studies are still being done to study the different variables that can change the results.