personality traits. Is there any truth to it? Could it be the answer to why siblings are so different? I sought out Michele Goldman, a psychologist and advisor for Hope for Depression Research Foundation, to get the breakdown of the birth order theory, what it says about each sibling, and why some people may not fit its framework. Developed in the 1900s by psychotherapist Alfred Adler, birth order theory suggests that the sequence in which a child is born within their family—from first born to the youngest and every position in between—shapes their thoughts and behaviors.
For example, the firstborn typically portrays the characteristics of being an achiever and reliable. Goldman made an important distinction between chronological and psychological birth order: “Chronological birth order is the literal order in which siblings are born,” she conveyed.
“Psychological birth order is the birth order that someone might encompass, even if they were not born in that placement within the family.”According to Adler’s theory, children are not born with inherent qualities, but rather their family environments and dynamics play a role in influencing individual psychology during their formative years. While every family is different, Adler believed there were many similarities between the interactions of parents and children as well as between siblings.
So does birth order really impact personality? The short answer is it’s up for debate. Some studies have shown that Adler was onto something when it comes to the attributes of first children, but more research is needed to get the full picture.