Understanding the impact of birth order on your personality can provide valuable insights into your behavior and the dynamics within your family. While individual differences always play a role, birth order can shape specific traits and tendencies that persist into adulthood.
Whether you’re the eldest, youngest, or somewhere in between, experts believe that your place in the sibling hierarchy can greatly shape your personality traits. While personal opinions may vary, scientific research provides valuable insights into the relationship between birth order and personality.
The Firstborn Child
A study from the University of Illinois suggests that most firstborn children exhibit such traits as extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. They’re confident, aware of their parents’ love, and even tend to perform better at school.
Sam Jahara, a psychotherapist and co-founder of Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy, argues that children born first usually receive better opportunities as far as education is concerned. Although these children are also exposed to the fears of their parents and inexperience, they usually get more attention from their parents. Older siblings often learn to be organized and prioritize as they manage tasks involving taking care of the younger siblings.
The Middle Child
Middle children, on the other hand, tend to develop negotiation skills and empathy since they grow up sharing resources with their siblings. Jahara notes that middle children are often seen as peacemakers within the family, given their role in mediating between older and younger siblings.
These children may also feel the need to compete for attention to establish their place. Research indicates that they benefit from being somewhat neglected, which fosters independence, outside-the-box thinking, and a reduced need to conform. Middle children may lash out to get attention during their younger years, because they crave attention, but will grow up to be caring, pragmatic adults.
The Youngest Child
Youngest children often experience a more relaxed parenting style, as their older siblings share some of the responsibilities. Jahara explains that the firstborns are usually considered as the responsible ones, whereas the middle child usually holds the place of a peacemaker. Thus, the youngest child may feel less pressure.
However, this can lead to a sense of lagging behind or insignificance. Studies from the universities of Reading and Birmingham suggest that the youngest child often exhibits a rebellious, outspoken personality. This trait makes them more exploratory, unconventional, and tolerant of risk, from trying new things to being more willing to stand up for themselves during confrontations or difficult situations.