First borns often have distinctive behaviors and personality traits compared to their younger siblings. As the first child in a family, a firstborn fills a unique role that shapes their development. Understanding common first born traits can provide insight into how birth order impacts personality.
Do first borns have higher IQs?
Some research suggests firstborns tend to have slightly higher IQs than their younger siblings. A study published in the Journal of Human Resources found firstborn children scored 2-3 points higher on IQ tests than second-born children. The IQ advantage for firstborns was consistent across various countries and cultures studied.
Higher IQs among firstborns may be partly explained by the intellectual environment of being an only child in early childhood. Firstborns enjoy exclusive interactions with parents during this time, allowing abundant opportunities for cognitive stimulation through language, reading, and play. Having no siblings to compete with for parental attention facilitates an enriched learning environment.
However, the IQ difference between firstborns and laterborns is quite small. While statistically significant, a 2-3 point difference has little practical relevance. Overall, research on birth order and intelligence remains inconclusive.
Are first borns more responsible?
Firstborns tend to be more responsible, mature, and achievement-oriented compared to their younger siblings. As the oldest child, firstborns are often given more responsibility by parents. They are expected to set an example for their younger brothers and sisters.
Only children have an even stronger urge to please their parents. Many only children exhibit “firstborn tendencies” such as responsibility, organization, and leadership.
Being the firstborn child is associated with many “only child” experiences. Firstborns have the full attention of parents without needing to share with siblings. This facilitates confidence as well as a tendency to seek approval.
Do first borns have higher self-esteem?
Surprisingly, laterborns tend to have higher self-esteem than firstborns and only children. A Norwegian study of nearly 13,000 pairs of siblings found second-born teens had higher self-esteem than firstborns and only children.
These results contradict the assumption that greater responsibilities and more attention from parents would result in higher self-esteem for firstborns. Researchers proposed that laterborns benefit from having a sibling to measure themselves against and learn from.
The study also suggested second-born children are less influenced by the typically high parental expectations placed on firstborns. However, other larger studies have found minimal differences in self-esteem between birth order positions.
Are first borns natural leaders?
Firstborns are often assertive, dominant, and motivated to achieve. These traits contribute to a tendency to assume leadership roles. Research shows firstborns are overrepresented among members of Congress, presidents, and CEOs.
One study of major league baseball players found 34% were firstborns, more than any other birth position. Only children also tended to be overrepresented among top athletes.
The leadership qualities of firstborns develop out of familial responsibilities. Taking initiative and influencing younger siblings primes firstborns for asserting authority.
Do first borns follow rules more?
Firstborns tend to respect hierarchy and authority. Their birth position essentially makes them the “leaders of the family” under the parents, so following rules and structure comes naturally.
Studies show firstborns have a strong sense of right and wrong. According to one survey, mothers were significantly more likely to say their firstborns had a rigid sense of justice.
Conscientiousness and a prudent nature cause firstborns to adhere closely to norms and standards. They are less likely to engage in risky or illegal behaviors compared to laterborns.
Are first borns perfectionists?
The intense attention firstborns receive from parents, combined with the pressure to set an example for younger siblings, contributes to perfectionistic tendencies. Firstborns feel a strong need to meet expectations.
In childhood, parents are inexperienced and often over-parent their firstborn child. Excessive criticism and pressure from parents can promote perfectionism and performance anxiety. The feelings continue into adulthood for many firstborns.
Research confirms firstborns score significantly higher on measurements of perfectionism. However, birth order only accounts for a small portion of variation in perfectionism which is determined by multiple factors.
Do first borns have trouble sharing?
Firstborns are used to receiving undivided attention from parents. The arrival of a new sibling can be difficult as firstborns suddenly need to share parental affection and resources. Some firstborns have trouble adjusting to dividing the spotlight.
An only child struggles similarly when a sibling comes along. They move from being the sole focus of parents to needing to share attention. Only children are stereotyped as unwilling to share and socially reserved.
However, firstborns also learn early lessons in responsibility and cooperation by helping care for younger siblings. Despite initial difficulty sharing, many firstborns ultimately become quite protective and supportive of their younger siblings.
Are first borns more conservative?
Some research suggests firstborns tend to hold more conservative, traditional views compared to laterborns. A study of voting patterns in the United States found firstborns were more likely to support conservative candidates and policies.
The intense desire of firstborns to please their elders contributes to more traditional mindsets. Firstborns are also more likely to identify with authority figures who support the status quo.
However, this relationship is correlational. There are many firstborns with progressive views, and laterborns who hold conservative opinions. More research is needed to further analyze the nuances of birth order and political orientation.
Do first borns have better relationships with parents?
Firstborns tend to have very close relationships with parents that can last throughout life. The firstborn child spends many years as the sole focus of parental attention. This establishes tight parental bonds.
Firstborns often feel compelled to meet the high expectations set for them by parents, straining the relationship at times. But ultimately, firstborns remain highly identified with parents and eager to make them proud.
Laterborns have a contrasting experience, needing to share parental attention once a firstborn arrives. However, laterborns report feeling less pressure from the typically lower expectations placed on them by parents.
Are only children similar to first borns?
Only children share many common traits with firstborns due to growing up without siblings. Only children exhibit heightened maturity, perfectionism, responsibility, organization, academic orientation, and leadership tendencies.
Research shows only children score high on measurements of firstborn tendencies. Their situation amplifies firstborn traits due to receiving undiluted parental attention during childhood without ever needing to share.
However, only children differ from firstborns in having increased autonomy. Without older siblings to rely on, only children become highly resourceful and independent at earlier ages.
Do first borns have higher academic achievement?
Firstborns tend to excel in academics. A study reviewing over 20,000 families found firstborn children had higher average educational levels compared to laterborn siblings.
The intellectual environment and undivided parental attention experienced by firstborns promotes academic success. Firstborns also feel heightened pressure to achieve and live up to the high expectations often placed on them.
One study found firstborns were significantly more likely to pursue additional years of schooling beyond high school. Firstborns were also overrepresented among finalists in high school academic competitions.
Are first borns overrepresented among therapists and counselors?
Firstborns appear to gravitate toward “counselor roles” at disproportionate rates. Research suggests they are overrepresented among psychologists, therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists.
The empathetic, responsible nature of firstborns attracts them to caregiving fields. Firstborns also tend to enjoy roles that provide authority, mastery, and the ability to help others.
Additionally, some firstborns seek counseling positions to obtain insight into family dynamics. By better understanding their own birth order experience, they hope to help others do the same.
Do first borns struggle with work-life balance?
Firstborns feel intense pressure to achieve success and “do it all.” This contributes to trouble maintaining work-life balance. Perfectionistic tendencies make it difficult for some firstborns to be satisfied with their performance.
Firstborns are also prone to excessive people-pleasing. The desire to meet the high expectations of parents, bosses, and partners keeps firstborns continuously striving for the next goalpost.
However, firstborns can utilize their responsible nature to self-impose boundaries when needed. Learning to sometimes say “no” and better manage expectations helps firstborns achieve greater work-life balance.
While generalizations about birth order can be oversimplified, research suggests firstborns do exhibit a distinct set of personality traits. Their early life experiences being solely the oldest child establishes patterns of achievement-orientation, leadership, perfectionism, and responsibility.
However, birth order effects account for only a small portion of personality. Family dynamics, genetics, gender roles, and cultural influences also substantially impact development. Not all firstborn children fit the stereotypes. Birth order provides some insights into shaping human psychology, but it does not rigidly determine anyone’s destiny.