This topic submitted by Nick, Nikki, Kristy, Lindsey (firstname.lastname@example.org) at
10:58 PM on 9/30/99. Additions were last made on 10/14/99. Section: Myers
Kristen Antos, Nick Burns, Lindsey Sabo, and Nicky Ziomek
NS SGL proposal
Birth order is an interesting phenomenon that attempts to explain how a child achieves the personality characteristics that he or she exhibits. For years, the significance of an individual's birth order has been subject to many spirited debates, discussions, and research in sociology as well as other disciplines, but the complexities in this discipline is that it are scientifically difficult to determine and support. Still, one study in
particular, Frank Sulloway's Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics,and Creative Lives (1996), has created a growth of renewed excitement and dialogue in the field. "Using quantitative, historical data, Sulloway found that birth order is a better predictor of social attitudes than is gender, class, or race" (Freese, 207). He even goes so far as to say that it was "the single best predictor of whether eminent individuals converted to Protestantism or remained Catholic during the reformation" (Freese, 211). Sulloway's theories stem from his belief that birth order is an essential component to comprehending ideological variations. Some of the generalizations that Sulloway contends about first-borns in his novel are that they are more
intelligent, more dependable, and more conservative. They try to emulate their parents by associating with rules and authority. And, the experience of having their parents' complete focus "stolen" from them at the conception of the next sibling causes a definite drive for power. But, Sulloway's ideas are not the only ones in the field of course. Other scientists have drawn conclusions that that go so far as to say that birth order can be used to foretell almost any perspective of an individual's life including his or her types of friends, philosophy, type of person he or she will marry, and
even how he or she will perform in the workplace. Then again, there are conflicting ideas (including our idea) that state that birth order is only one of the many factors that determine a person's characteristics.
We contend that a variety of influences, both inside and out of the family and specific birth order roles, contribute to individual differences in personality. Our hypothesis departs from the Sulloway's traditional family order model in that it states that dominance and aggressiveness, or lack there of, is not solely a factor of the first born, but a result of one's demographic origin. We believe that children who were raised from the age of two to ten in an urban setting will exhibit the characteristics of a first born child. Those born and raised in a suburban setting will have the characteristics of a second born child, while those from a rural setting will have those of the third child. Because of the lack of conclusive research focused on determining the personality characteristics of a fourth,
fifth and sixth born, we will not be involving them in our study.
Studies have developed some stereotypical characteristics of each of the roles of the child in the family. The first born child is viewed as dominant-aggressive, a quality that reflects strength. They are seen to be independent, goal setters, high achievers, perfectionists, responsible,organized, rule keepers, determined, and detailed people. First-born children are also directly associated with leadership.
The second/middle child usually has characteristics such as flexible,diplomatic, peacemaker, generous, social, and competitive. The origins of these characteristics stem from the fact that the second child constantly feels the need to 'catch up' or 'out do' the older sibling.
Finally, the characteristics of the third child are as the risk taker, outgoing, an idea person, creative, humorous, and a questioning of authority. Picked on by the second child, the third usually feels a sense of vulnerability, as if anyone could hurt him or her. It is him or her against the world.
These are just some of the generalizations that have evolved from a plethora of personality and birth order studies. This topic has become a large area of interest today because it is universal. Thus, it is universally appropriate because everyone has been a child. Examining physical birth order and living demographics gets us one step closer to answering the questions of "Who am I?" and "Where do I fit in?" and how this is relevant to the rest of society.
~Student subjects for personality tests
~Stat View computer program to create graphs and organize data
The design of our experiment is to ask a group of seventy students of
different birth orders questions specific to researched birth order
personality characteristics. From this information we plan to determine whether or not their personality corresponds to their actual place in their family. From our data, we will prove our hypothesis that personality is a result of additional factors rather than just birth order. The variable we plan to study is the effect of the demography on personality. We hypothesise that personality is not only linked to birth order, but the demographic area a person was raised in during ages 2-10. We plan to incorporate the students of our Natural Systems class as part of our methods for this experiment. The students will be given a personality quiz which they will complete and note their birth order and the demographic area that they lived in ages 2-10. The three choices of demographic area will be urban, suburban, and rural.
Results from each student will be collected. We will ask several other
students outside of the class to complete the personality quiz as well. The data from students in our class will be incorporated into the data collected from students outside of the class. In essence, the students will be creating their own data. Results from the experiment will be presented in a graphical Manner using stat view. We will use several graphs to visually present and compare our data. Graphs
comparing birth order to demographics, as well as graphs comparing the
results of females to males will be created. This experiment is statistically sound because we are asking real students real questions concerning birth order and personality characteristics. Through the design of this experiment and our planned methods, we will prove our hypothesis, that variables including living environment and atmosphere also contribute to the formation of one's personality. We will begin our experimental procedure in the next two weeks.
Birth Order Characteristics. http://www.ncn.net/~cliffi/birtho.htm
Birth Order Personality Inventory (to be used later)
The Dilemma of the Only Child. Northwestern University
Freese, Jeremy, Brian Powell, and Lala Carr Steelman. "Rebel without a
cause effect: Birth order and social attitudes." American Sociological
Review. Albany, Apr. 1999.
Isaaceson, Clifford E. Introduction to the Birth Order
Sulloway, Frank J. Birth Order and the Nurture Misassumption: A Reply to
Judith Harris. http://www.edge.org/3rd culture/sulloway harris/index.html
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