Usefulness of birth order as a construct

Usefulness of Birth Order as a Construct

Comparison of the Usefulness of birth order as a construct and Adler’s theory

Alfred Alder was a Psychiatrist who was born in 1870.He became the first person to conceptualize Birth Order.He believed that birth order had an impact and played a role in development of ones Personality.Personalities is the manner in which we deal with life tasks. This includes friendship, professions and entertainment (Eckstein & Kaufman, 2012). Adler suggested that personalities varied from first born, second born and last born. A first born personality is different from the last born’s personality. He said that the firstborn children become dethroned when the second born comes and may never recover from it.

When the middle borns are come, they gradually develop a strong superiority over the first born. They have been seen to strive to keep up with the older sibling.Alfred Alder was the middle child in his family, and thus could have possibly influenced his theory (Marini & Kurtz, 2011). Alfred went ahead and suggested that the last born children are always pampered by all family members.He also said that last born children have strong feelings of inferiority. This is because the older siblings are smarter, stronger and faster. The last born is also seen to be dependent on the older siblings according to Adler.

Frank Sulloway, who was a theorist, made a proposition that the birth order possesses a strong and consistent effect on our personality trait.He said that the first born children have been seen to be less open to new ideas, more dominant, and more conscientious than smaller siblings. It is evident that birth order has a profound effect on a child’s development. This is because it is seen similar characteristics are seen in the adult child as is seen it the young child. This is however not always true. Other theorists tend to disagree with the importance of birth order.Judith Rich Harris, proposed that birth order does not affect our personalities, but may affect the birth order within the family.

Generalizations Applied to Birth Order

Firstly, it is evident that the first child is theorized to develop leadership skills and qualities.The second child is supposed to learn from the eldest child’s mistakes and emulate the good deeds, thus becoming more adept in handling issues (Jefferson,1998).The youngest child is seen to be babied for a long time and may be more likely to maintain dependency from parents. Birth order has been seen to affect roles and jobs that one takes on in a family.

Most of the responsibilities are given to the oldest sibling and then chronologically dispersed to other sibling. If the oldest child is a girl, the mother often views her as premature or as a “little adult”. The oldest daughter is frequently seen as her mother’s angel,, devotion, and is given attention. She also, however, gets the brunt of strong parental supervision.Generally firstborns are reprimanded or punished earlier and more severely than their younger siblings (Percy et al, 2003).If the oldest child is a boy, he is seen as a grown up and mature person as is given most of the responsibilities.

Description of My Birth Order

My family consists of five members, both parents, two boys and a girl. I am the first born among the three. Followed by my brother who is two years younger that me. My sister then follows my brother. The two have an age difference of two years.From my observations, Adler’s theory still works up to date. It is evident from our family.When I was the only child, I used to get all the attention I needed. If I asked my parents to buy me something, they would do it without hesitation. I was able to be taken to a high cost school since I was the sole child. Two years down the line when my brother was born, most of the attention that i was used to started decreasing. A lot of attention and time was given to my younger brother.

I started noticing that he was in someway superior to me because he got more attention.When he was at age to attend school, I was shifted from the high cost school and was taken to a lower cost school together with my brother. Three years down the line, my sister was born. There was a lot of excitement since she was the only girl.The little attention that was given decreased even more. My brothers attention also decreased as it was shifted to my sister. I noticed that my parents bought a lot of fancy tings for my sister. She seemed to enjoy more than I and my brother experienced.As we grew up, I noticed that my sister still gets the attention she had from when she was born. In essence, she was given less chores as compared to me and my brother.

Conflict Resolution

Siblings must learn to negotiate and resolve conflicts which may arise among themselves (Kluger et al, 2006). First born have more responsibility when it comes to conflict resolution. They must learn to resolve conflicts with young siblings and their parents. Middle and last born must learn negotiate skills with first born and parents in order to achieve within the family structure (Russell, 1997). Parents have the responsibility of loving all children equally and should give each child equal attention to avoid sibling rivalry.


Birth order affects the daily lives of people globally.First born children are seen to be leaders and are given more responsibilities.Second born children are expected to learn from the older siblings ad emulate the good examples set to them.The last born children are seen to be babies and are thus given more attention as compared to other siblings.They are also given less responsibilities compared to the older siblings.


Eckstein, D., & Kaufman, J. A. (2012). The Role of Birth Order in Personality: An Enduring Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Adler. Journal of Individual Psychology, 68(1), 60-74. Percy A., R., Klaus, A., Marina, B., Ada, L., Iver, M., Angeles, S., & Frank J., S. (2003). Perceived parental favoritism, closeness to kin, and the rebel of the family. The effects of birth order and sex. Evolution And Human Behavior, 24261-276. doi:10.1016/S1090-5138(03)00033-3Jefferson, T. (1998). “Associations between Birth Order and Personality Traits: Evidence from Self-Reports and Observer Ratings”. Journal of Research in Personality. 32 (4), 498.


Marini, V. A., & Kurtz, J. E. (2011). Birth order differences in normal personality traits: Perspectives from within and outside the family. Personality & Individual Differences, 51(8), 910-914. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.07.019Kluger, J., Carsen, J., Cole, W., & Steptoe, S. (2006). The New Science of SIBLINGS. Time, 168(2), 46-55. Russell, C. (1997). Birth order and the baby boom. American Demographics, 19(3), 10.