One of my childhood friends is the oldest of four. He was a serious kid growing up. Now he’s a government accountant, married, and has three children. To call him responsible is putting it mildly. But his baby sister? She’s currently backpacking around the world at 28 and posts funny Instagram photos of her stuffed panda at local tourist attractions along the way. We all know a pair of siblings who couldn’t be more different. So like many people, I’ve often thought about the role of birth order on personality. But is it true? A new study shows that our speculations have a solid basis.
YouGov recently polled almost 2,000 UK residents who grew up in families containing more than one child. Researchers then sorted out middle children, leaving only the answers given by the youngest and oldest siblings of each family. The results are revealing.
According to the report: “The most significant difference is in feeling the burden of responsibility – most (54%) first borns say they are more responsible than their siblings, compared to 31% of last borns. Younger siblings, on the other hand, are more likely to say they are more funny (46% compared to 36% of elder siblings), more easy going and more relaxed.”
This is certainly true of my account friend, who is not exactly known for his sense of humor.
But age may also play a role in shaping our personalities. The study says, “To some extent age itself, rather than family dynamics, may be responsible for the differing characteristics. Older children, having had more time to get on in life, are more likely to say they are more successful than their siblings.”
This may give my friend hope. His sister who’s traveling the world with her stuffed panda? She may settle down soon.
Check out the chart below for the study’s highlight and read the full report here.
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