Your Birth Order Influences Your Intelligence and Personality

11/24/2012

Siblings photo

This story brings it all home for me. It somewhat seamlessly explains the jarring differences between my older brother and myself. He's the hardworker, driven beyond belief, yet somewhat quiet; and I'm the outgoing little twirp who loves meeting new people and trying new things. I talk too much, he talks too little. In fact, the characteristics are more common than one would think with regards to sibling order. 

A study reported in LiveScience lines up all these characteristics nearly perfectly. First borns are typically smarter while younger siblings get better grades and are more outgoing. But they likely get better grades because of help from their older siblings. U.S. presidents, Nobel Laureates, and NASA Astronauts are overwhelmingly first borns. 

Sibling Relationships

Sibling relationships can be complicated and this study explains why it’s nearly impossible to treat children equally. The study looked a 90 pairs of siblings and asked them to report grades and rank themselves compared to their siblings on intelligence, work ethic, and academic performance. Researchers looked at scores to verify reported statistics. 

First borns were found to be better at math and science while later borns were better at English and history. Later borns were more sociable, sentimental, forgiving, and open to new experiences. First borns were perfectionists. 

According to LiveScience:

First-borns might score higher on measures of intelligence, because, at some point in their lives, they were only children who were the sole recipients of their parents' attention.

Younger siblings might earn better grades, because they received mentoring from first-borns who already had to tackle certain subjects, the researchers say. Also, later born children might feel extra pressure to be competitive, and might try to out-do their older siblings in the hopes of gaining extra attention from parents.

What do you think? Did your birth order contribute to your personality traits?  

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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