Are personalities affected by birth order or the gender of our siblings?

Posted on April 24, 2015

Photo: flickr

A major issue is that a self-report or a parent’s report on our personality might not be biased by an individual’s expectation of how one should behave.

This new study focuses on a finding that men with older sisters are less competitive. Participants were invited to complete a maze challenge or math test which will earn points for correct answers. Reward is given if they beat others that are randomly assigned to their group.

In the first experiment, most boys choose to enter this competition compared to girls. However, the number of boys with older sister that enter is lower than the other boys.

Duplicating the research with control over influence of influencing factors like risk-aversion and over-confidence. The same results were seen.

Two possible reasons to why men with older sisters tend to be less compentitive:

1. Role Assimilation
This is the way one tend to absorb gender-stereotypical traits of their siblings.

2. Birth-Order
Later borns are found to be less competitive than the first borns. Since first borns tend to be under more pressure to meet parent’s expectations. They also had to compete to defend their stakes against their younger siblings who are kind of their rivals.

Men with older sister tends to have less competitiveness. However, women with an older sister had opposite results, they were more competitive. It could possibly be due to shared interests and needs which increases female competition and conflict in the family.


Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development

Source material from British Psychological Society


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