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Birth Order Effect
on personality development


Formation of Our Personality
      Our personality is the basis of who we are. We can modify specific attributes that influences every aspect of our lives ranging from employment, how we interact with our family, and our choices of friends and romantic partners.

      A personality is a mixture of core and secondary traits. The core traits make up the basic foundation of our personality. Secondary traits are related to preferences, attitudes and situational behaviors.

      Overall personalities may seem to change as we grow older and our roles and the issues that matter most to you are reprioritized. In reality, it is not our basic personality that has changed with age, but it our:
  • Habits,
  • Vigor and health,
  • Responsibilities,
  • Circumstances.
      There are core parts of personality remain stable throughout life. Three aspects that do tend to change as we age are:
  • Anxiety levels,
  • Friendliness,
  • Eagerness for novel experiences.
      New research has postulated a connection between neurotic personality traits and five illnesses;
  • Headaches,
  • Asthma,
  • Arthritis,
  • Peptic ulcers,
  • Heart disease.
      Animal behavior researchers have been able to identify consistent behavioral patterns that can be empirically measured and tested that demonstrate animals have their own personalities with preferences, behaviors and quirks that persist throughout their life.

Birth order

      The term Birth order is defined as a person's rank by age among his or her siblings. Birth order is often believed to have a profound and lasting effect on psychological development of each child. This assertion has been repeatedly challenged by researchers, yet birth order continues to have a strong following among parents.

      Alfred Adler, was one of the first psychology theorist to suggest that birth order influences personality. He postulated that birth order can leave an indelible impression on an individual's way of dealing with friendships, love, and work.

      According to Adler, firstborns are "dethroned" when a second child comes along, and may result in a lasting influence on them. The only child and younger children may receive more physical objects and parental attention, which can affect their personality development. Changes from additional births in a family introduces additional factors affecting their personality.  source - wikipedia

      Adler held that the eldest child is socially dominant, highly intellectual, and extremely conscientious. Unfortunately, they’re also less open to new ideas, and prone to perfectionism and people pleasing – the result of losing both parents’ undivided attention at an early age, and working throughout their lives to get it back."  source - Education.com

      Parents should considered the spacing interval in terms of years, not months, between the birth of siblings. Other factors include the total number of children in a family unit and the changing financial circumstances of the parents over time relating to both parents working, a stay at home parent, day care options, etc.

      Contemporary researchers who have studied birth order suggest that birth order influences personality traits. The modern theory of personality development lists the personality traits that can be measured. The five-factor theory of personality describes five broad personality dimensions that compose human personality:
  • Openness - A general appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experience.
  • Conscientiousness - The state of being thorough, careful, or vigilant. A tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement against measures or outside expectations. The trait shows a preference for planned rather than spontaneous behavior. It influences the way in which we control, regulate, and direct our impulses.
  • Extraversion - Characterized by positive emotions, surgency, and the tendency to seek out stimulation and the company of others. The trait is marked by pronounced engagement with the external world. Extraverts enjoy being with people, and are often perceived as full of energy:
    • Warmth
    • Seeking novelty and excitement
    • Gregariousness
    • Assertive
    • Cheerful
    • Talkative
    • Enjoys being the center of attention
    • Action oriented
  • Agreeableness - The tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. The trait reflects individual differences in general concern for social harmony. Agreeable individuals value getting along with others. They are generally considerate, friendly, generous, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others.
  • Neuroticism - The tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression. It is sometimes called emotional instability, or is reversed and referred to as emotional stability. Likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. Their negative emotional reactions tend to persist for unusually long periods of time, which means they are often in a bad mood.
      The interactions among siblings relationships change over time and that any effects of birth order may be eliminated, reinforced, or altered by later experiences that occur in each siblings life. Research is challenging because of the difficulty of controlling all the variables that are statistically related to birth order. Family size, and a number of social and demographic variables.

      There is evidence that the patterns of childhood behavior acquired while living at home don't affect the way people behave outside the home, even during childhood.

      Behavior researchers have identified a number of factors that may contribute to the onset of different personality disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and borderline personality disorder.  These factors include:
  • Genetics
  • Relationships with peers
  • High sensitivity
  • Verbal abuse
  • Childhood trauma
      A simplistic view birth order on your personality has to do with your parents own personality, the family dynamics, and other influences you may have had in your life.

The Eldest or Only Child
      Parents usually tend to spend more time with the first child when there are no other siblings to compete for their attention.  An only child may have better economic advantages that allow for more extracurricular activities or better schools, than those whose family budget is spread out among more kids.

      However, with the birth of another child they become the eldest child. Their role in the family may change as parents apply more pressure to succeed by seeking more prominent and high paying jobs to meet those expectations.

      The eldest child may develop a greater fear of failure, and worry about not meeting expectations can cause a rebellion resulting in underachieving or major depression due to high stress levels.

The Youngest Child
      The youngest is often treated as the baby of the family, especially if there is a large number of years separating the births. They get a lot of attention, but they are rarely taken seriously. They feel like they need to prove themselves, and may become risk takers (or, even rebels).

The Middle Child
      There is a drastic change when the youngest child is replaced by another child. The middle child frequently feels that they received the least amount of attention from their parents. This is especially true if there is a number of years separating the siblings. They experience a change in their identity changes from youngest to the middle child.

      Parents begin to reprioritize their time to satisfy the demands of an infant and later as a toddler. This allows the middle child to become more independent and they are very likely to form friendships or interests outside of the family unit. They may also feel like their needs are neglected by their parents and try to get that approval from other people.

      Some individuals approach the theory of birth order the same way you would a horoscope: it's fun to read, but don’t lose any sleep over it.

Recommended Reading:

The Power of Birth Order - TIME 
Oct. 17, 2007 ... The importance of birth order has been known — or at least suspected — for years. But increasingly, there's hard evidence of its impact.

Human Intelligence: Does Birth Order Affect Intelligence?
Jan. 26, 2012 ... A Human Intelligence Hot Topic reporting on the research surrounding the question, does birth order affect intelligence?

The Effects of Birth Order on Interpersonal Relationships The Effects of Birth Order on Interpersonal Relationships. Renee M. Schilling. Abstract.

Birth Order Affects Child's Intelligence and Personality Aug. 12, 2010 ... SAN DIEGO – Birth order within families has long sparked sibling rivalry, but it might also impact the child's personality and intelligence.

PDF   In press with Journal of Individual Psychology 1 ... Birth order effects in the formation of long-term relationships. Joshua K. ... Sulloway (1996), in contrast, explains birth order effects in terms of children.

References:
Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Developing Personality Traits and Character Traits

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The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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