Birth order is an interesting aspect of life. It pertains to everyone. The most fascinating aspect of this study is that it is humans have no direct control over their birth order. Personality, which is directly related to birth order, plays such a major role in everyday life. Scientists and psychologists have been studying child development for a while and have come up with some interesting studies. Childhood development is influenced by several factors. Genetics and the surrounding environment are two influences that have a major effect on a person's development. The study of birth order can help us to understand friends, family members and colleagues on a higher level. The position of a sibling does not influence an individual's personality alone. There are several other factors such as: gender, years between other siblings, parents and the type of environment the child was raised in. We plan to prove that birth order does have an effect on personality. But the surrounding environment has a profound impact upon the individual as well. Through research we intend to support the general stereotypes created by theorists with regards to each birth group.
II. Relativity & Relevance
The majority of the research that we have come across is rather outdated. This has made researching rather difficult. Most authors have the same things to say. There are general characterizations that exist for each birth category. Taking into consideration the minor variations they all hold true. One other factor that can throw off the results is the "Double Dipping Rule" as we will call it. The "Double Dipping Rule" is an idea that we have contrived on our own based upon the knowledge of the three major theorists referenced in our project. This idea allows certain specified offspring to draw characteristics from multiple categories. For example, if a daughter is born second to a male, not only could she have second child characteristics but also first child characteristics because she is the first female of the family. We have narrowed our research to include only what we have deduced to be the major theorists, Toman, Sulloway, and Forer.
Walter Toman's book Family Constellation, It's Effects on Personality and Social Behavior is useful to our project. This book is one of the more recent references we have access to. It analyzes influencing factors as it relates to marriage, friendship and the role of gender as well as the theory of birth spacing being another factor.
"Frank Sulloway, author of the book, Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics and Creative Lives, and a scholar of birth order studies for over two decades, believes that birth order is one of the most powerful influences in the way that individuals react to the world. Sulloway contends that birth order fosters distinctive personality traits across families of different economic, social and ethic backgrounds. Beyond providing common themes between families, Sulloway suggests that birth order is also a good indicator to how a person accepts or rebels against the standards of society."
Another author, L.K. Forer, discusses in her book, Birth Orders and Life Roles, similar ideas of those proposed by Toman and Sulloway. Such agreements include how first borns tend to be higher achievers and other such characteristics of those listed above. Forer goes on to say that these roles are also variable in many ways. Each position can have different characteristics that are dependent upon gender of the individual, gender of the other siblings, and the environment from which they grow up in.
Birth orders application to the real world plays a significant role in properly matching professions and personal relationships as those factors relate to personality. Researchers have found that the middle children tend to be great politicians. Knowing this, do parents tend to favor middle children in hopes of producing a famous politician? On a more general note, are parents' attitudes towards their offspring influenced by this theory?
The theorists that we have found that have done research on this topic have consistently characterized birth order characteristics into four general categories. Each category contains unique attributes that can allude to their individual personality. The first division to the sibling classification is clearly first borns.
Characteristics of first borns:
· Goal setters
· High achievers
· Rule Keepers
· Detail People
Characteristics of the Middle Child:
Characteristics of the last born child:
· Risk takers
· Idea people
· Question authority
III. Materials & Methods
In order to test these findings we are preparing our own survey. The questions we hope will either support the categories above, or allow us to create our own. By asking such things as gender, position amongst siblings, age and parental composition. We also plan on surveying a large population, especially off of western campus. We would also like to address issues of variables of step children, adoption and ghost children. If we receive enough responses from an older group of people from the business world, we hope to make such connections dealing with birth order effecting career choices. Here is a draft of the survey.
How many brothers do you have?
How many sisters do you have?
What position amongst your siblings are you?
First Middle Youngest Only
How large(in years) is the distance between you and your siblings?
Would you agree that the following categories accurately represent your personality
traits in relation to your birth order? Yes, I agree___ No, I disagree___
First born: high achiever, responsible, rule keeper, perfectionist
Middle children: Competitive, diplomatic, peacemaker, generous, social
Youngest: Outgoing, creative, risktakers, tend to question authority
Only Child: take on leadership roles, attract followers, strive for recognition
What is your major?
Forer, Lucille K. Birth Order: Life Roles. Springfield, IL: Thomas, 1969
Forer, Lucille K. The Birth Order Factor: How Personality is
Influenced By Your Place in the Family. NY: D. McKay Company,
Leman, Kevin Dr. The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You
Are. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1984.
MSNBC. 1998. Birth Order. http://www.msnbc.com/onair/nbc/today/birthorder/
Sulloway, Frank J. Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics
and Creative Living. NY: Pantheon Books, 1996.
Sutton-Smith, Brian, and Rosenberg, B.G. The Sibling. NY Holt Rinehart
and Winston, Inc, 1970
Toman, Walter. Family Constellation: Its effects on Personality and Social
Behavior. NY Springer Publishing Company, 1976.
Wilson, Bradford. First Child, Second Child: Your Birth Order
Profile. NY: McGraw Hill, 1981.
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