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Factors Affecting Personality Development: Analysis of Birth Order Theory

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How can everyday life form one’s personality as a child? What makes an individual have a distinct personality compared to another? Personality is the way a particular person thinks, feels, and behaves. It forms unique character and impacts us on how we respond to actions in our environment. Personality is fully developed by the age of 7 and in most cases, it stays constant throughout life (Cherry). Many factors come into play in the development of personality, such as the individual and environmental factors, which incorporate the birth order theory (“Factors Affecting Personality Development”).

There are quite a lot of theories on how personality can develop, such as genetics, environment, and experiences (Cherry). These theories are divided into two different categories: individual and environmental factors. Individual factors are aspects of a person that are developed in early childhood and cannot be changed. Individual factors include skills and traits inherited from parents, the physique, or body type, and the intelligence of a person (“Factors Affecting Personality Development”). Individual factors show that personality types can be based on things such as genetic influences, nutrition, gender, and brain chemistry (Cherry). It is proven that someone who has a higher intelligence is able to adjust better in a social environment. On the other hand, environmental factors are aspects of personality that have occured because of the surrounding of the person and the interaction between the individual and the environment. Environmental factors include the environment of the family, school, the experiences endured, and more. Family is the largest factor of personality development and displays that the parents behavior and actions, their expectations, education given, thoughtfulness towards the child, and the birth order can influence the child’s personality. Also, a positive or harsh experience endured as a young child, such as a trip to the zoo or a death of a parent, can motivate or discourage the child throughout life. School also plays a big role because the discipline, personality, and attitude of the teacher and peers can influence the child’s personality. Lastly, the economic and social conditions of the family, the accepted values and cultural traditions in a society, and the amount of free will the child is given can affect the child’s mindset (“Factors Affecting Personality Development”).

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As previously stated, the order in which a child was born in it’s family can impact his or her personality. This is known as the birth order theory and was created by Alfred Adler, an Austrian doctor and therapist, in the early 1900s. To not get confused, the birth order theory does not mean that the child is born with these exact traits that will be described, but the theory suggests that birth order can shape a child’s personality in their early life. Even though every family is different, most families interact similarly as they grow and develop, which means the birth order theory can apply to most families. Thus, only children have unique situations because parents are more likely to give only children more attention than a child with siblings. Due to this, they interact with people notably older than them as a child. Only children can then feel like “tiny adults” and more sophisticated than peers with siblings. Only children tend to show the traits of confidence, maturity, sensitive, self-centered, and manipulative. Next up: first born children. First born children may show similar characteristics of an only child because they are used to being an only child until the other sibling comes along. First born children can show personality traits of an achiever/leader, feels like they must have superiority over other children, controlling, concentrate on being correct. They also may change their behavior (good/bad) to attain parents attention, they can be reliable, aim to please others, can be protective, and like to help others. Then, when the 2nd child is born, attention from the parents is being shared with both children. Due to this, the second child often tries to catch up with the older sibling, who is their role model. It is believed that the second child can adjust better in life than others. A second child tends to show the traits of competitiveness, a people-pleaser, peacemaker, rebellious, independent, and develops talents/skills the first child lacks to gain attention. The second child can also be classified as the middle child depending on the size of the family. The second child then may have to share the attention with older and younger siblings if they lose their youngest child status. The middle children are presented with many challenges and can become frustrated or resentful due to the big changes they are confronted with in early life. This diagnosis is known as the “middle child syndrome.” The middle children in bigger families are usually not as competitive as a single middle child, considering the parents attention is being spread even thinner and it is hard to gain attention. The middle children in larger families often use cooperation to gain their parents’ attention. Middle children often show the traits of adapting, impatient, outgoing, boisterous, even-tempered, can feel left out, they don’t have the benefits and responsibilities of the oldest children or the privileges of the youngest sibling, and they can possibly treat the younger siblings rougher. Then comes the youngest child. The youngest child does not have to deal with being “overthrown” by a younger sibling and the attention from the parents tends to be directed towards the “baby” of the family since the older siblings are developing and are becoming more independent. Traits of the youngest child can include charming, outgoing, attention seeker, can feel inferior, expects others to make decisions and take their responsibility, and can become speedier in development to catch up to older siblings. Also, certain situations may influence the personality of the child as they evolve and develop. This could include blended or step families, health issues of a sibling, the death of siblings, and adoption. If there is an age gap of 3 or more years between siblings, the birth order can restart. Again, personality is not determined by birth order alone but, birth order can influence the child’s personality as they grow and develop (Peck).

The development of one’s personality as a child is determined by several components. Those components are categorized into individual and environmental factors, which include the birth order theory (“Factors Affecting Personality Development”). Ultimately, the variety of factors and situations of daily life can create the distinct personalities of this world that we come across everyday.

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Factors Affecting Personality Development: Analysis of Birth Order Theory. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from
“Factors Affecting Personality Development: Analysis of Birth Order Theory.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
Factors Affecting Personality Development: Analysis of Birth Order Theory. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Sept. 2023].
Factors Affecting Personality Development: Analysis of Birth Order Theory [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2023 Sept 24]. Available from:
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