A study made by ZAjonc

The second child has the opportunity to ask the older sibling about everything that catches his/her interest. Zajonc believes that through this process the second child would be able to understand things better, although the knowledge gained could be less relevant than the first hand knowledge that the first child acquired. (2001, p. 2-4) It is thus, in the process of tutoring of the younger child that the older child gains enough power and self-confidence with respect to his abilities. It is also in this said process that the younger child develops some level of inferiority and admiration for the first born.

In a study made by ZAjonc and his colleagues, participants are asked to rate whom they think is the most agreeable, bold, creative, emotional, envious, extraverted, intelligent, obedient, responsible, stable and talkative, the firstborn, the only child, the middle child, the last born and the participant himself. This study was conducted how the general public view the effect of birth order and the personality of the person. As can be seen on the table above (Zajonc, 2003) the lastborn are generally viewed to be the least responsible.

Also the last be least obedient and therefore most stubborn. However, the first born are rated to be as most intelligent, obedient, responsible and stable. (Zajonc, 2003) It is interesting to note that a “self-serving bias” on the part of the participants was found; participants usually rate themselves as “most agreeable, responsible and intelligent. ” (Zajonc, 2003) Another study was conducted to demonstrate the relationship between occupation and birth order. This study explored the first born bias that is believed to be dominant in our culture.

The participants were asked to rate what occupations does the firstborns, the middle child and last born usually have or should have with respect to their experiences and opinions. 0. 5 last born, 0-middle, -0. 5 first born If the previously-described study is valid, it is important to note that the lastborn are considered to be “least responsible, more talkative and are more emotional” while the firstborn are generally perceived to be “more intelligent and are therefore would qualify better for leadership position or roles” (Zajonc, 2003 p.146).

This study then ought to show that firstborns hold occupations requiring greater intelligence. Accordingly, most of the participants involved rated the firstborn to belong to most jobs which are considered to have high occupational prestige, while those who are last born constitute low occupational prestige. These studies have generally shown that people, regardless of social class, have a positive image of the firstborn child and an unfavorable image of the lastborn.

Although these biases might be purely cultural they have a great effect on the occupational outcomes and the societal treatment of the first and lastborn. The firstborn may be treated with high regard while those who are lastborn are treated unfairly due to certain prejudices. They may be deprived of some opportunities that are offered to firstborn. However, this can be rooted on the prevailing assumption concerning the characteristics of first born children.

As the studies above have shown, most first born children are given greater responsibilities by their parents, guardians and the society as a whole and as Zajonc, et al. (2003) has shown, they are viewed by the society to possess greater intelligence which, in their opinion, is rooted on the way that the children are raised. The intellectual environment that the children enjoy greatly influences not only their attitudes and behavior but also the way they are treated by other people. According to the study made by Sampson (as quoted in MacDonald, p.174), the firstborn are believed to posses higher tolerance and be more stiff than lastborn.

In MacDonald’s explanation, this must be anchored on the “social responsibility” that is given to the first born. The firstborn in their early age need to take care of their younger siblings and they are given responsibility of looking after their siblings and they assume the responsibility of taking care of their parents when they grow old (Moran, as quoted in MacDonald 174-175). MacDonald elaborates that firstborn are more susceptible to influence or manipulation by their parents.

MacDonald argues that firstborn usually follows the wishes of their parents or guardians. Firstborn have a greater need for the approval of their elders; although they display independence, their actions are usually patterned on the expectations and dreams of the people that surround them (Moran, as quoted in MacDonald, p. 175). Zajonc (2001) has repeatedly asserted that indeed the intelligence of the child might be greatly affected by the birth order. Yet, several other factors such as race, language, height and weight among others can also have grave effect on the person’s opportunities.

Several advantages and disadvantages lie deeply entrenched in these factors that affect a person’s access to fame, power, resources and success. Alfred Adler emphasized the effects of birth order on the character, attitude and development of the person. As the idea concerning the relationship of birth order with the advantages and disadvantages that a certain person can have in the society proliferated, it is best that we segregate what is a mere product of societal bias from what has been proven through repeated study.

Zajonc’s studies revealed the ideas concerning birth order and personality along with the how intelligence might be affected by socialization and general confluence or influence among family members. Several studies presented by Macdonald and his colleagues provided convincing facts and data that reflect how the society views the first born children and what they expect from them. On the other hand, it also shows that the last born children enjoys less privilege and are viewed by the society as less effective leaders. (MacDonald, 1971)

From these different approaches one may conclude that in some way birth order affects personality traits, development, attitude and intelligence and may even affect one’s choice of occupation. There are however other factors that affect personality and occupational potential. In this essay, the different views of society are taken in order to demonstrate the prevalent connection that exist between birth order and personality of the person with respect to the theory that was developed by Alfred Adler.

References: Ansbacher, H. , and Ansbacher, R.R. (1964). Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. Harper Perennial. Drescher, K. A. and Stone, M. H. (2004). Adler Speaks: The Lectures of Alfred Adler. iUniverse, Inc. MacDonald, A. P. (1971). Birth Order and Personality. Journal ol Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Vol. 36, No, 2, 171-176. West Virginia University. Mosak, H. (1999). Primer of Adlerian Psychology: The Analytic – Behavioural – Cognitive Psychology of Alfred Adler. Routledge. Stein, H. T. (2007). Adlerian Overview of Birth Order Characteristics. Alder Institute.

Retrieved on October 26, 2007. Retrieved from, the World Wide Web: http://ourworld. compuserve. com/homepages/hstein/birthord. htm Zajonc, R. B. (2001). The Family Dynamics of Intellectual Development. American Psychologist. Vol. 56, No. 6/7, 490-496. American Psychological Association, Inc. Zajonc, R. B. , Herrera N. C. , Wieczorkowska, G. and Cichomski, B. (2003). Beliefs about Birth Rank and Their Reflection in Reality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 85, No. 1, 142–150 American Psychological Association, Inc.

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