Birth Order Theories Baseless

Birth Order Theories BaselessBirth Order Theories Baseless

Eldest children have no perceptible advantage in the world, says an extensive survey that concludes that any birth order effects are ‘infinitesimally small’

The only head start eldest children enjoy in life is chronological, as being born first makes no discernible difference to a person’s character or intelligence.

Previous evidence, and wide-scale popular opinion, has suggested that first-borns are smarter, more competitive and higher achievers.

However, a new extensive study into the benefits of birth order found that while eldest children do exhibit different personality traits to those born later, and even have an extra IQ point, these disparities are so tiny that they are negligible in any meaningful sense, reports

Brent Roberts, the University of Illinois psychology professor behind the study, called any differences resulting from birth order “infinitesimally small”, equal to a correlation of just 0.02.

“In some cases, if a drug saves 10 out of 10,000 lives, for example, small effects can be profound,” he said. “But in terms of personality traits and how you rate them, a 0.02 correlation doesn’t get you anything of note. You’re not going to be able to sit two people down next to each other and see the differences between them. It’s not noticeable by anybody.”

Rodica Damian, psychology professor who co-authored the paper, said her examination of 377,000 American teenagers is “by far the largest study of birth order and personality.”

Roberts also pointed out that comparing children’s developments can be tricky, because firstborns are older, so they can seem more responsible or focused just as a result of their relative age. “There’s a lot of conflicting evidence, a lot of controversy,” surrounding birth orders effects, Damian said. “Despite this, the effect has always been portrayed as hugely important and so large that one could see visible differences with the naked eye, which is certainly not the case according to our study.”