How your birth order affects your personality

Katie Mather

For years, the scientific community and general public have been fascinated with figuring out whether there are legitimate effects based on a person’s position among siblings (or lack thereof, only children count in these studies as well).

The AsapSCIENCE TikTok account, hosted by Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, dove into the psychology behind birth order.

Firstborns

“Firstborns typically have higher academic success,” Moffit said. “[They have a] stronger sense of responsibility and maturity, and better leadership skills.”

“They typically get a lot more attention in their first years, especially compared to their siblings,” Moffit continued. “But they also have much higher expectations from their parents.”

Middle siblings

“Cooperative, flexible and sociable,” Moffit said to describe middle siblings. “They tend to make friends really easily. They tend to be less competitive and ambitious because they don’t get as much attention as the older sibling. They seek out attention from other relationships and friendships.”

Youngest siblings

“Last borns are typically charming, likable and more creative,” Moffit said. “They have a really strong sense of security and confidence, but they’re less responsible and mature than their other siblings.”

“Because parents are a lot more confident at this point, there’s a lot more leniency and typically lower expectations,” Moffit continued.

Only children

“You tend to be academically able and resourceful, creative, more mature — but you hate disorder and you like to be in control,” Moffit said.

“Never feel bound by these labels!” AsapSCIENCE left in the comments section of the video. “They were based off an interesting meta-analysis, and may or may not apply to you.”

The birth order theory stems from psychotherapist Alfred Adler, who, in the early 20th century, suspected that birth order could create specific characteristics and differences in siblings. The personality traits came from how their parents treated each child — for example, the firstborn would typically be the most neurotic child because of how much focus and attention they got in their early lives by their parents, while the youngest child was more rebellious and independent.

As with most pop psychology sciences, there is doubt about whether this is foolproof. There are, of course, examples of firstborn children being the black sheep of the family or the middle child exerting leadership qualities.

But, there are studies that do suggest Adler was onto something. A 1968 study found that firstborns are less likely than their younger siblings to participate in dangerous sports because they’re more cautious and fearful of injury. A 1980 study found lower anxiety and higher ego in firstborns too.

Plus, it goes without saying, other external circumstances like gender, socioeconomic status, the age gap between siblings and the number of siblings someone has factors into personality as well.

Love personality tests? Find out what your Myers-Briggs type says about you.

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