Multiple studies along the years, starting with Adler’s and Freud’s, have finally reached the conclusion that older siblings are not inherently better, just expectedly different and certainly not naturally smarter.
Certain researchers have claimed in the past that it was the unfortunate preordained fate of younger siblings to fall out of the spotlight and be outshined by their older brother or sister. While it might be the case for some, it’s not due to genetics. So, basically, parents are not predisposing their second child to remain in the shade simply by bringing them into the world.
In the largest study of its kind, a number of 377,000 high school students participated in polls, tests and inquiries to decide if there is an inborn factor to propel older siblings to success. As it turns out, there isn’t.
Researchers have observed certain differences in between first borns and later borns, and a possible pattern, but definitely not enough to claim one naturally better than the other. The variations were so small that they were deemed insignificant in the child’s future success or failures.
The IQ difference was reported to be of just 1 point, with older siblings on the favored side, and while that might be statistically valuable, it’s essentially insignificant.
However, researchers did find a number of traits that seem to be more consistent in first borns. They discovered that the older siblings had a tendency to be more extroverted, more agreeable and more conscientious, which could be attributed to either genetics or simple upbringing. The two counterparts of the study did share one great difference growing up: one had a younger sibling and the other had an older sibling. It is very possible that the simple fact can influence personality later on.
Other than being the largest in its domain, the study took into consideration different factors that are usually overlooked. Besides the family’s economic status, age and number of children, they also examined each child in part. More commonly, studies choose to inquire answers from just one, usually the older sibling, asking them to describe their life in comparison to later borns.
It might have skewed the results of previous studies, as they did not use a completely objective manner in gaining answers and revolved around a potentially biased perception.
Researchers have made sure to note that the purpose of the study was not to change dynamics between siblings, but to caution and explain to parents that children should not get different treatment based on the fact that they were born later into the family.
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