Sample Psychology Paper Summary: Does Birth Order Determine Personality

Does Birth Order Determine Personality

The position into which one is born in a family has been held with lots of contention due to the perceived impact on personality. Sine perceptions can be changed but the birth order cannot be changed, it is becoming increasingly necessary to find the link between birth order and personality. There is a belief that the birth order affects aspects such as values, character and personal struggles. However, various psychologists have only confirmed that at times the birth order determines personality and individual IQ.

This is related to the impacts of early childhood on development. The effects of the family size on the preferences of a child are diverse. It is observed that large families are often associated with low socio-economic levels while smaller families are associated with high statuses. Alfred Adler for instance posits that the birth position determines the level of attention received and subsequently the responsibilities assumed during development.

The role of birth position in molding character is depicted through the claims that firstborns may consider punishment das dethronement when developing naughty and stubborn behaviors. The shift from being an only child to having a second born contributes t o perceptions of limitations among the firstborn and may lead to the development of some traits. The position of children in the family is also reported to be used by parents as excuses for certain actions. For instance, the firstborns are generally taken to be responsible and may act as socialization agents on behalf of the younger siblings. The birth positions also affect the ability to learn especially in role performance, with the firstborns more likely to adopt the traditional dominating roles while the younger siblings develop socialization skills (Eckstein & Kaufman, 2012).

According to various research studies, the birth position influences career choice and interactions with others. While firstborns are perceived as more leadership and management oriented, the lastborns are more into socialization and personal interactions (Grinberg, 2015). The firstborns adopt careers and roles that are more dominating, goal oriented, responsible and traditional.

On the other hand, the lastborns are more likely to select careers that are untraditional, cooperative, adventurous and sociable. Despite the arguments for the role played by birth order in character development, the claims have been refuted by some studies. For example, studies report that the differences noticed in personality development between the firstborns and those born in other positions in the family are due to differences in social interactions and not a result of the birth position.

Another basis upon which the claims are refuted is due to the changing personality traits as one grows. Other studies show that as people develop, their personality traits also change. The changes come about due to interactions with others in the environment. This implies that the traits gained during childhood do not stick through to adulthood and thus cannot be attributed to birth positions. Experiences and outside interactions also influence the development of personality traits.

Other claims against the birth position theory postulate that the assigned roles such as requiring the firstborns to take care of the siblings result in the development of various traits. The cultural precepts also encourage the development of different personality traits. As such, the theory of the effects of birth order on personality traits is misplaced and advances the development of stereotypes. Since this theory results in the development of favoritism such as consideration of the firstborns as more intelligent, parents are encouraged to desist from such stereotypical behaviors.


Eckstein, D., & Kaufman, J. A. (2012). The Role of Birth Order in Personality: An Enduring Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Adler. Journal Of Individual Psychology, 68(1), 60-74.

Grinberg, A. (2015). The Effect of Birth Order on Occupational Choice. Atlantic Economic Journal, 43(4), 463-476. doi:10.1007/s11293-015-9474-2

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