According to a survey of the 40 Leaders Under Forty Class of 2008, 47.5 percent were the oldest sibling in their families, and 32.5 percent were the youngest. Fifteen percent fell into the middle-child category, and just five percent were only children. Does birth order really affect your personality traits? Several studies have attempted to answer this question.
Alfred Adler, the pioneer of the study of birth order, suggested that social relationships among siblings and between children and parents have an impact on the personality of each individual child. Here are some of the traits that contribute to birth-order personalities:
- First-born children are generally natural leaders and high achievers who like to see things done right. They look for approval from those in charge and are able to relate to adults fairly easily.
- Youngest siblings have the most experienced parents, which make them less likely to be disciplined over minor issues. They tend to garner more attention and love the limelight. Youngest children are the most outgoing and charming of siblings, but sometimes appear to be spoiled.
- It’s more difficult to define the characteristics of middle children. They are often complete opposites of older siblings, great negotiators and peacemakers, with laid-back attitudes and a love of socializing. They are independent and can usually read people well.
- Like firstborns times three, only children strive to be even more responsible and are bigger perfectionists. They know their facts and are reliable and detail-oriented. When they don’t get their way, they often feel they were treated unfairly.
The firstborn is often the CEO, and the middle child is more likely to be the entrepreneur. But as seen with our 40 Leaders, one can be successful and make an impact in the workplace and the community regardless of birth order. iBi