General Overview of Studies Concerning Birth Order

This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Cite this essay cite-image

Before I begin I would like to ask a question. Who here has siblings? Who has more than one sibling? Now, raise your hand if you are a middle child.

My name is Layla and today I will be discussing birth order.

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place an order

What is birth order? Well, the definition has two parts. The first is ordinal position which refers to the actual order that siblings are born in. This is the idea of first-born children, middle children, youngest children, and so on. The second part is psychological position, this explains the role that children learn and accept based on how they interact with other individuals. Things like a big age gap, a loss of a sibling, or living in a blended family situation can all impact an individual's psychological position. (Eckstein, et al. 2010). All these factors can have an impact on a person's identity and personality.

Today it is commonly believed that individuals have different personalities due to three major factors. 40% of the difference is attributed to genetic differences, 35% of the difference in personality is due to ‘non-shared’ environments, and 25% is due to shared environment (Salmon, 2013). A shared environment describes influences that are common, like a shared community or shared status (Eysenck, 2006). A non-shared environment is unique to an individual, like a friend group (Eysenck, 2006). Birth order is considered a non-shared environment, although siblings grow up in the same family environment, each sibling experiences development in a different way due to their unique ordinal position (Salmon, 2013). Birth order has been known to impact many facets of life, such as an individual’s personality, mental health, creativity, among other factors (Salmon, 2013).

So if birth order can change the way we experience development can it also change adulthood? My inquiry question is: How does being born as a middle child impact adulthood? To further break down the question, let us examine the key terms. Firstly, a middle child is any child born after the eldest, but before the youngest typically in a family of three. Adulthood is the stage of life when an individual is completely mature and independent. Lastly, an impact is the lasting effect of an environment or situation on an individual. It can be both positive or negative.

The purpose of my research is to bring attention to the stigma that surrounds middle children, and to overcome it. As well my goal is to show that research needs to be done using critical thinking in order to highlight positive and negative aspects of birth order. And lastly, I think it is important to consider long-term results and findings, which is why I am researching adulthood.

To answer my question, we will examine my findings. I have found three main themes, parental investment, communication, and personal identity.

First is parental investment. In Buss and Hawley’s book ‘The Evolution of Personality and Individual Differences,’ there is a chapter called ‘Why Siblings Are Like Darwin's Finches’. Darwin’s finches are based on Darwin’s theory of natural selection which states that desirable qualities for survival are passed down to offspring to help a species survive in the wild ('Darwin's Theory Of Evolution'). Based on Darwin’s theory, siblings act different from one another, because they are fighting for resources to survive in different ways (Buss & Hawley, 2011). The amount of time their parents invest in them changes their methods of getting resources (Buss & Hawley, 2011).

Natural selection impacts sibling behaviour based on parental investment (Buss & Hawley, 2011). Human siblings become different by learning different roles and behaviours in their families, which eventually lead to different personalities (Buss & Hawley, 2011). Simply, the amount to time parent put into caring for a child can impact their personality. First and last children receive the most parental investment and attention (Shah & Jadav, 2016). Middle children never receive 100% parental investment (Shah & Jadav, 2016).

Now how does this impact middle children in adulthood? First of all, middle children are at a disadvantage since they receive the least parental investment (Buss & Hawley, 2011). This disadvantages really means that middleborns learn to share resources with their siblings (Buss & Hawley, 2011). This can lead to adulthood where middle children will face the same environments of competition in the real world (Buss & Hawley, 2011).

As a result of having experience with competition, middle children grow up to become innovative adults (Shah & Jadav, 2016). Middle children are known to be neglected in terms of attention, but this can actually be beneficial. It can result in; Greater independence, greater creativity, less pressure to conform, and more empathy (Griffin, 2012). Since middle children do not rely on attention from parents they are generally less anxious (Shah & Jadav, 2016). As adults, middle children go with the flow, are easy going, and extroverted (Shah & Jadav, 2016).

But low parental investment can also be negative. Middle children's association with competition could possibly result in neuroticism (Shah & Jadav, 2016). Least parental investment can lead to middle children having low self-esteem and being more self-conscious (Buss & Hawley, 2011). Middle children can also become rebellious (Shah & Jadav, 2016).

Now let us move on to communication.

Now that we have established that middle children spend less time with their parents, it is understandable that they would be less dependent on their parents (Dodgson, 2017). In fact, middle children turn to siblings or friends for support and help (Dodgson, 2017). This means that middle children have stronger social skills and good communication skills so they are able to negotiate (Dodgson, 2017).

Here is a chart that shows the traits of middle children and the frequency of the trait being observed. In the chart we see; sociable, success in team sports, and relates well to older and younger people (Eckstein, et al. 2010). This shows that middle children work well in team settings, are cooperative, and trusting (Griffin, 2012). All these traits display strong communication skills.

These traits affect adulthood for a middle born individual. It can impact how they experience the workplace. The ability to negotiate and skills like flexibility, independence, sociability, and teamwork are all very useful for employability (Dodgson, 2017) (Griffin, 2012). Ordinal position can influence career path choice too (Griffin, 2012). Middle children tend to become teachers, actors, stuntmen, social workers, lawyers, diplomats, firefighters, musicians, or photographers (Eckstein, et al. 2010) (Griffin, 2012). Middle children tend to avoid isolated jobs like cubicle office jobs (Griffin, 2012).

Another way being born as a middle child can impact adulthood is in relationships. As I mentioned middle children value friends for support more than firstborns or last born (Dodgson, 2017). The value of relationships for middle children makes them good friends and good partners (Dodgson, 2017). Middle children are less likely to cheat since they value relationships so much (Dodgson, 2017). Middle children are more bonded to friends and are least likely to turn to parents during traumatic events (Buss & Hawley, 2011).

Again in the chart, we can see middle children are more faithful in monogamous relationships (Eckstein, et al. 2010).

Quotation’ “I think that's why they tend to be very successful with their friendships, and very successful with their marriages, but that probably translates also into how they manage things in the business world too,' Salmon said.” (Dodgson, 2017).

Moving on to the final theme, personal identity.

Identity is formed from childhood and can extend into adulthood (Zara, 'Identity/Identity Formation”). Middle children are not seen as the centre of attention, so they do not see themselves as always right, they form their identity to be more critical of themselves (Dodgson, 2017). Self-regulation becomes a big part of identity. Having less parental investment leads to being more independent and more capable (Dodgson, 2017). Identity is formed around the idea that middle children can’t rely on being treated like the baby or being the responsible eldest. (Dodgson, 2017). Middle children “would be the most stable, as they never experienced dethronement or being spoiled” (Salmon, 2013). Alfred Adler, a leader in birth order studies, stated that middle children “observe and profit from the mistakes the firstborn children make” (Eckstein, et al. 2010).

Media is a big pusher of the idea that middle children are left out and loners. (Dodgson, 2017). Although many studies have found that middle children display feelings of not belonging (Eckstein, et al. 2010). So it may hold some truth. Now, while these characteristics make up an identity, how is the identity itself formed?

Identity is formed through interaction. A way to examine this is through the theoretical perspective, symbolic interactionism. Symbolic interactionism states that individuals develop a sense of self based on their interactions with others (IN CLASS). Individuals choose to act based on their perception of self and others (IN CLASS).

Alfred Adler was one of the first people to theorize about how birth order can affect children. He said that the situation a child is born into and how the child interprets that situation is what influences the child's behaviour and character, not necessarily they physical ordinal position of the child (Eckstein, et al. 2010). While a child may be born in the middle, the role they accept is what truly forms their personal identity. Birth order is a really big factor for individuals to learn their roles within the family. The role you take on as a child can greatly affect your identity as an adult.

After learning about birth order, we can look back at my inquiry question. How does being born as a middle child impact adulthood? Well being born a middle child can positively impact workplace experience by developing negotiation skills. It can contribute to relationship successes, by placing value on friends and partners. And lastly, being middle born can form a unique identity through symbolic interactionism, that will be sustained in the adult stages of life. We reach this conclusion by analyzing parental investment, communication skills, and personal identity.

I mainly studied how birth order impacts personality but there are many other birth order studies that need to be researched and analyzed. Such as how birth order impacts cognition, development, society and so on (Salmon, 2013). Next, research should be done on all the other ordinal positions, long-term. The statistics and patterns examined can be a good way to analyze society and development (Eckstein, et al. 2010). These findings can impact future research and development to update birth order. Whether you have two siblings, one, or none birth order will have an impact on you as adults.

To finish off my presentation please open up kahoot on your phones for a very short game on what we have learnt today.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this paper

General Overview of Studies Concerning Birth Order. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 25, 2024, from
“General Overview of Studies Concerning Birth Order.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
General Overview of Studies Concerning Birth Order. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Jul. 2024].
General Overview of Studies Concerning Birth Order [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2024 Jul 25]. Available from:

Join our 150k of happy users

  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.