Birth order: Forget what you thought you knew…

Time to tear up the rule book on this one...


Are you the oldest sibling? Youngest? Or somewhere in the middle? Stereotypes around personality and intelligence and their connection with birth order have long persisted – but a new report has revealed there’s really not much science behind the labels at all.


We might see the older child as sensible, the middle child as overlooked and the youngest child as a downright rebel, but research from Leipzig University has now confirmed this thinking is little more than myth.

The research team looked at adults from Germany, the UK and the USA, and discovered that there was little correlation between personality traits such as extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability and where a person came in the birth order of their family.

While firstborn children were more likely to say they could understand ideas extremely well and had an excellent vocabulary, the study showed little to support the idea that oldest children are more intelligent than their younger siblings.


While the study as a whole shows a relatively small decline in intelligence from oldest to youngest, it’s not enough to count as a factor among individual families. 

“This effect on intelligence replicates very well in large samples, but it is barely meaningful on the individual level, because it is extremely small. And even though mean scores on intelligence decline, in 4 out of 10 cases the later-born is still smarter than his or her older sibling,”  said Professor Stefan Schmukle.

“The real news of our study is that we found no substantial effects of birth order on any of the personality dimensions we examined. This does not only contradict prominent psychological theories, but also goes against the intuition of many people.”

Totally what we reckoned, say the youngest siblings in the MFM team. Anyone want to disagree?

What do you think?

Do you reckon birth order has affected your personality? If so, how? Tell us in the comments below?

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