How Does Birth Order Affect Psychological and Social Development?

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How Does Birth Order Affect Psychological and Social Development? Birth order and its effects on psychological and social development is a controversial topic that has been studied by many researchers (Skinner & Fox-Francoeur, 2010; Dunkel, Harbke, &Papini, 2009; Hartshorne, Salem-Hartshorne, & Hartshorne, 2009; Iacovou, 2007; Holmgren, Molander, Nilsson, 2006; Baer, Oldham, Hollingshead, &Jacobsohn, 2005; Rodgers, 2001; Sulloway, 1996; Kessler, 1991; Galton, 1874). Researchers have hypothesized that birth order affects many features of development such as personality (Skinner & Fox-Francoeur, 2010; Dunkel et al., 2009; Sulloway, 1996), intelligence (Iacovou, 2007; Holmgren et al., 2006; Rodgers, 2001; Kessler, 1991), creativity (Baer …show more content…
Frank J. Sulloway’s (1996) research on birth order effects on personality sparked the interest of other researchers. Sulloway (1996) hypothesized that parents interact differently with each of their children and provide different amounts of resources to each child, which influences children to conform to certain roles in the family. He suggested that birth order causes competition between siblings for parental attention, which results in personality differences. He used the Big Five personality traits to measure the personalities of participants. From his study he found that first-borns are likely to be higher in conscientiousness and extroversion, and lower in agreeableness and openness than middle or youngest children. Some researchers have expanded on Sulloway’s theory and study of birth order and personality (Skinner & Fox-Francoeur, 2010; Dunkel et al., 2009), but they have not been able to re-create his results. Dunkel, Harbke, and Papini (2009) hypothesized that birth order affects the way parents treat their children, the child’s identity, and the Big Five personality traits. Their findings, unlike Sulloway’s (1996), showed almost no relationship between birth order and personality or identity (Dunkel et al., 2009). The only personality or identity trait that was significant in their results was that last-borns tended to be less agreeable than others. Skinner and Fox-Francoeur (2010)

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