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Birth order has minuscule effect, study says

Researchers found that firstborn children have a single-point

Researchers found that firstborn children have a single-point advantage when it comes to IQ along with some measured personality differences from those who are born later. Credit: Dreamstime

Was your insanely successful older sibling born to achieve? Is your youngest child preprogrammed to seek the limelight? Nope, says a new study analyzing the traits of 377,000 high school students. At least, the study says, not enough to make any practical difference.

In the end, researchers found that firstborn children have a single-point advantage when it comes to IQ along with some measured personality differences from those who are born later. Firstborns were more "extroverted, agreeable and conscientious" overall, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

But the correlation on those personality differences is so tiny that it really doesn't speak to any noticeable effect between individuals born first and those born later.

"In terms of personality traits and how you rate them, a 0.02 correlation doesn't get you anything of note," University of Illinois psychology professor Brent Roberts, the study's lead author, said in a statement. "You are not going to be able to see it with the naked eye. You're not going to be able to sit two people down next to each other and see the differences between them. It's not noticeable by anybody." Added co-author Rodica Damian: "The message of this study is that birth order probably should not influence your parenting, because it's not meaningfully related to your kid's personality or IQ."

-- The Washington Post

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