If you’re worried that your older sibling is destined to succeed at everything in life while you’re destined to fail, stop. If you believe that your oldest child is set to be smarter, more creative, more sociable or more responsible than the other/s, stop. A team of researchers from the University of Illinois and the University of Houston assures everyone that the order of birth doesn’t really have an impact on siblings.
The experts conducted a study and found that the first born in a family does indeed tend to be more extroverted, more conscientious, more agreeable and have less anxiety. However they only have an advantage of 0.02 points, nothing significant, or even noticeable.
And while your older child might be more responsible than your younger one, Brent Roberts, project co-leader as well as psychology professor from the University of Illinois, gave a statement stressing that the reason for that is that they are in fact older. If both children would have the same age, the results could very well show that they are equally responsible.
For their project, Professor Roberts and his team examined the personality traits and IQ levels of 377.000 high school students. The professor informed that the size of the sample is highly important as this is the largest that’s ever been used to study this matter.
Rodica Damian, project co-leader as well as psychology professor over from the University of Houston, also stresses that the importance of the sample is not be overlooked as one of the main mistakes that previous studies have made was to work with small subject samples. The other main mistake is that they relied on a comparison model known as “within family”.
She went on to inform that what the above mentioned comparison model does is to ask one of the sibling, typically the oldest one, whether or not they are more conscientious than the rest of their siblings. But the correct approach would be for the researchers to measure the personality traits and IQ levels of each individual child.
On top of this, in order to give accurate results, a “within family” comparison model should gather information from every child of every generation. It would need to include at least a few different generations and each of the children being examined would need to go through the tests when they reach the same age that the ones from previous generations had when they took the tests.
So the comparison model that the new study employed involved comparing children from different families with one another. The subjects were also compared to those their own age, and the research team did take factor such as family economic status into account.
One related finding was that families with a higher monthly income or with fewer children were able to invest more resources in the children’s future, and as a result personality traits and IQ levels were changed for the better.
Professor Roberts concluded that while drug tests that prove a product can save 10 out of 10.000 people are seen as having a profound effect on the lives that they do save, the 0.02 correlation between siblings does not lend itself to a noticeable difference.
Professor Damian also shared a few final thoughts, advising parents everywhere not to let birth order dictated how they raise each child since this criteria is not related to a child’s personality traits and IQ levels in any meaningful way.
The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality.
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