Research Question: Does birth-order have an effect on personality?Birth-order could be one way to gain an understanding of friends, family members and co-workers. Research has shown that the birth-order indeed has an effect on personality. Birth-order of course does not explain everything about human behavior, personality is also affected by many different factors such as heritage, the environment of the upbringing, family size, education etc. There are four basic classifications of birth-order: the oldest, the only, the middle and the youngest born.
Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The birth-order factor is not always exact, but it does give many clues about why people are the way they are (Leman, 1985).
First-born children tend to be highly motivated to achieve. In school, first-borns tend to work harder for grades than later-borns do. They often grow to be more competitive and have higher educational and career goals. Of the first twenty-three astronauts sent into outer space, twenty-one were first-borns or only children.
Some characteristics of first-borns are: goal setting, high achievers, perfectionist, responsible, organized, rule keepers, determined, detail orientated. Only children are considered as a specialized type of first-borns. They are generally characterized much the same as first-borns who have siblings. Some famous first-borns include Mikhail Gorbachev (Russian leader), Jimmy Carter (president), Albert Einstein (scientist), Sally Ride (astronaut), and Steven Spielberg (producer). Some famous only children include Brooke Shields (actress, model), Franklin D. Roosevelt (president), Leonardo da Vinci (artist), Frank Sinatra (singer), Danielle Steel (novelist).
Middle-born children are usually well balanced. They are good mediators and have superior cooperation skills. They dont have their parents all to themselves or get their own way. Therefore, they learn to negotiate and compromise. Middle-born children often make excellent managers and leaders because of these skills. Some characteristics of the middle-born child are: flexible, diplomatic, peacemaker, generous, social, competitive. Some famous middle-born children include Bea Arthur (actress), Bob Hope (comedian), Tom Selleck (actor), Mary Decker Slaney (runner), and Princess Diana (British royalty).
Youngest children in the family are typically outgoing and great at motivating other people. They are also affectionate, uncomplicated and sometimes a little absent-minded. Studies show that babies of the family gravitate toward vocations that are people oriented. Good sales people are often last-borns. Some characteristics of youngest-born are: risktakers, outgoing, idea people, creative, humor, question authority. Famous last-borns include Ronald Reagan (president, actor), Eddy Murphy (actor), Mary Lou Retton (gymnast), Ted Kennedy (politician), Paul Newman (actor), Kevin Leman (psychologist).
Birth-order is not a simplistic 1-2-3 system that says all first-born children are equally one way, all second-born children are another and youngest-born children are always just like this or that (Leman, 1985). These are tendencies and general characteristics that often apply. Variables can affect each family situation. These variables include spacing (the number of years between children), the sex of the child, physical differences, disabilities, the birth-order position of parents, any blending of two or more families due to death or divorce and the relationship between parents. Whether raising children or working with adults the key is to remember everyone is an individual. Birth-order is another attempt to gain insight into the complex behavior of human beings.
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