If you have older brothers or sisters, you know there’s something special about your oldest sibling. They’re the trailblazer, always a few steps ahead of us in life. They show us what’s up ahead and they help us navigate the way, too. And for that, we look up to them. But what sets firstborns apart from us younger siblings? Are they really as good as we imagine them to be? Scroll down for a science-approved celebration of why our oldest siblings are so awesome!
1. Firstborn children may be more conscientious than their younger siblings.
One 2015 study found firstborns are slightly less neurotic, more agreeable, and more conscientious than their younger siblings—qualities that may help them succeed in life. And another study from the same year found that conscientious people perform better academically, which also makes them more likely to succeed.
2. Eldest children tend to follow the rules.
While younger siblings tend to break the rules, firstborns are more likely to stick with the status quo and follow rules.
Belgian psychologists Vassilis Saroglou and Laure Fiasse wrote in a 2003 paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences: “Firstborns tend to be responsible, competitive and conventional, whereas laterborns have to ‘distinguish’ themselves and create a specific niche by being playful, cooperative, and especially, rebellious.”
3. Firstborns might be smarter.
Research suggests that the average IQ of eldest children surpasses that of their younger siblings. According to a 2007 study of 250,000 Norwegian young adults, the IQ of first born men was on average 2.3 points higher than their younger brothers.
The difference seems to be due to environment rather than genetics. Elder children often act as teacher to their younger siblings, which tends to improve firstborn’s retention of information, according to the researchers of this study.
“Every time you add a child, you’re diluting the intellectual environment of everyone in the family,” the researchers concluded.
4. Eldest siblings are often more responsible.
Blazing the trail and helping care for younger siblings also means that firstborns learn responsibility at a young age. Author Jeffrey Kluger writes in his book “The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us” that that firstborns tend to focus on family loyalty and traditional achievements. As a result, they’re often seen as responsible and obedient.
5. Firstborn children might be more successful.
Not only do firstborns do better in school, they also might be more successful in their work life. According to psychologist Ben Dattners, eldest children focus on achievements and are eager to please their parents. Research also suggests that they tend to dominate their younger siblings, giving them adequate experience to fill leadership roles later in life.
So there you have it. Our oldest siblings really are the best!
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