Birth Order Theory

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Families are incredible influence on the development of personality. This fact is widely undisputed throughout the field of psychology. But what aspects of family play into the formation of an individual’s personality? Aside from the more apparent factors, such as socioeconomic status, parenting style, number in parents in the household, arises an often overlooked factor of the family dynamic – birth order. Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist, first investigated the importance of birth order in 1918 (Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1056). In his research, Adler implicitly distinguished between actual birth order and psychological birth order. In a study conducted by Shulman and Mosak (1977), these types of birth orders were defined. Actual, or ordinal, …show more content…
Adler, along with other psychologists, argue that the psychological birth order of a child plays a larger role in the development of an individual’s personality (Adler, 1956; Manaster & Corsini, 1982; Campbell et.al., 1991). Since Adler’s initial identification of the relationship between birth order and personality, which he called birth order theory, dozens of psychologists have further investigated the correlation. This paper will review relevant studies and come to the conclusion that birth order does in fact play a critical role in the development of personality among the various social positions of the …show more content…
McCrae and Costa (1992) identified five dimensions of personality that have since gained widespread acceptance among personality psychologists. These five factors include openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (McCrae & Costa, 1992). While Adler was one of the first psychologists to identify the connection between birth order and personality, Frank Sulloway seems to be the second major psychologist to dedicate time to defining how, and why, this relationship between birth order and personality occurs. Sulloway’s first objective was to link the birth order positions to each of the five factors of

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