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Firstborns, they argue, would strive for mastery, but second borns would want to do well to hit the targets that someone else set for them, i. The measure they used tapped mastery goals by asking participants to indicate, for example, whether in their courses they sought to understand the material as much as possible. Questions about performance goals asked whether they wanted to do well compared to other people.

Pretty strong stuff. Eckstein and Kaufman point out that perceptions and beliefs about birth order may have their effects, in large part, because parents impose their own stereotypes onto their children. By assigning these stereotyped birth-order roles, which may interact with gender roles, parents create self-fulfilling prophecies among their brood.

Perceptions about birth order can also influence your choice of a future career. Given the mantle of the achievement-oriented firstborn, you may set your sights higher than do your lowlier, younger, followers. Eckstein and Kaufman cite a study conducted in Poland showing that people believe first-borns to be more likely to occupy high prestige occupations to the tune of a correlation of. With regard to intelligence, which you have undoubtedly also heard is related to birth order and fits the Confluence model , the data remain unconvincing: When you add in the stereotype threat effect , which states that people perform on intelligence tests in ways subtly influenced by their self-perceptions, the birth order research becomes even more inherently flawed.

This is just one example of the impact that perceptions and stereotypes about birth order can have on apparent birth order effects. The moral of the story for parents is to look for your own biases and stereotypes about birth order as you think about what your children are capable of doing. Encourage them to teach each other, to define their own identities in the family, and to avoid labeling themselves based on their birth order. Carette, B. Born to learn or born to win?

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Complexities of sibling analysis when exposures and outcomes change with time and birth order

Birth order effects on achievement goals. Journal of Research In Personality, 45 5 , Eckstein, D. The role of birth order in personality: An enduring intellectual legacy of Alfred Adler. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 68 1 , Stewart, Alan E. Issues in birth order research methodology: Perspectives form individual psychology. Great to see the topic get some air. This is one of those things that people could, they think, do without.

Birth Order and Sibship Sex Composition as Instruments in the Study of Education and Earnings

The topic itself is not difficult, the distractions and competitive 'story lines' are a strong wind to buck. For what its worth, when taking an idividuals' consiousness to the birth order realm its kind of magical for them because they already know everything that is involved. Often they may gloss over the great insights available because they simply aren't in the habit of seeing information about themselves be so good and commonsensical.

My experience tells me that the vast majority aren't ready for a vast majority type experience with the information. But most could use a tune up and decompression ajustment to help calm some of the noise in their lives, that a minimal birth order awareness can help provide.


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A good discussion should probably start out with what an individual is 'good at' after a brief family discription which very few are brief and then to gain credibility, some 'guesses' about what the others in their family are like. From there the concept of niche developement is kind of the crossroads. Most don't want to consider their very early childhood as being that influential. Well anyway, who would have ever thought that a discussion about birth order amongst the creditable scholars cited here could be had without the mention of the humble Mr.

Just because you are born first doesn't mean your the only leader of the family or that your the only one that can approach a problem. The second child or middle could improve or be a leader to the oldest. Even though your the oldest doesn't mean you have the only point of view that matters. I could not agree with you more, first borns generally are just acting like their parents and have nothing new to offer so they are the least equipped to productively analyze and handle new problems. Your point is well taken and I'm in complete agreement.

What is appealing and seductive about first borns is they remind us of parental figures and we tend to pay too much attention to their mimicking of dominant behavior they internalized as children. The meat and potatoes of my first comments about the article was really noting that these quoted experts did not mention the most credible research on this topic which came from the distinguished Frank Sulloway.


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  • To the middle or second born, the oldest child is a pace setter or pacemaker. At the time of the second child's birth, the oldest children has already had a head start and the second born will often race to catch up. The second born will often dislike absolute power, to which Adler warns "Beware of his revolutionary subtleties! The second born is the like the antithesis to the first born in many ways.

    The second born studies the first and looks for way to overtake the first. I agree with you, I feel like the first born child isn't always the leader.

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    Im a young guy but my mind is set like a 24 year old. I personally feel that it should matter what order you are born.

    Birth Order And You Reference Series

    Im the youngest of my moms kids and the way of think of things or life or even buisness I can see that I dont have the same ideal of my brothers and sisters even though im the last one to be born. I happen to be very smart when it comes to the real world and so for but just looking at my sister who is only 11 months apart from me I can tell that she dosent see things the way I do, which could be good or bad but still again i can just tell she is the second youngest but i feel a lot older than she is. I agree that being the firstborn, doesn't necessary make you a leader nevertheless make you considered more powerful or important.

    But the PBOI does have a good point in saying that the order of each child impacts their life completely. Whether its one's childhood that can cause a huge interaction with new kids, or being in your teens and seeing your parents get a divorce. Being the last child and seeing all the things happen around your home, and being the last to hear about them, might make you feel isolated. Leading up to even more achievement and leadership skills.

    Birth Order And You (Reference Series)

    For the simple fact that they have learned to be alone, and to rely on no one but themselves. It makes you wonder how destiny is what it is, and how each child grew up in a certain way, with more benefits or less. I agree with what you are saying here. Just because you are the first born doesn't mean you're going to be the leader of the family of your siblings. The second or third oldest could be the leaders of the family. I have a sister and a younger brother and both of them can be better leaders than me at times.

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    Never doubt the younger siblings intelligence. Well you see you said that the second and the third born are the next leader but not in my house. The second born sister is nothing like my oldest sister. She is the one that would have someone else do their little dirty work instead of herself.

    Also, she doesn't know how to accept responsibility for other family members, she only does that for her friends and other close people to her. Then she has no understanding at all, I will do something that is actually for a good cause and then she will be mad at me for doing it. So she is the kind of person that doesn't respond with feeling or emotion, she is more of a " oh you did this thing wrong" without any understanding.

    The third born is almost the same thing. She always begs me to do things for her and do other favors that I am just thrown into. Also when her friends are over, she has to act like a jerk to me and all of my friends because she think they are all annoying and I just feel like my friends are way more mature than hers. Another thing is is that my sisters besides my oldest sister show no respect to me when their friends are around. They don't even stick up to me. They will let their friends say mean things about me and they would just go with it and they don't have the audacity to say it in my face rather than talking behind my back.

    I understand where you're coming from James because my second oldest sister is not like my oldest sister. I agree with you on the leadership part and being responsible. I feel like i'm the more responsible one out of my siblings and i'm the third oldest. Sometimes when my sisters have friends or family over they can act different too. The best thing that I do is to just leave them alone. I do feel like they should stick up for you because family should come before friends and family should always be there for you.

    I would say you are kind of a like my youngest sister because when we are busy we ask her for favors.