Can Your Birth Order Actually Determine Certain Personality Traits?

You've likely heard of middle child syndrome or maybe you have had an inkling that someone might be an only child after observing their behaviors. While opinions may vary, the question of birth order and its influence on personality is a fascinating one. The theory was first brought to light by Austrian psychotherapist Alfred Adler (via PsychCentral). He believed that birth order not only affected personality, but also life trajectory, success, and career path. Birth order has even been thought to have an impact on our future relationships


But being a firstborn doesn't always mean you're the uptight, responsible, rule follower, and the baby of the family isn't always dependent and wild — but it's certainly possible that these predictions turn out true. Studies have revealed conflicting evidence in regard to the idea, but many still take the birth order theory into account today. Here's a closer look at how birth order can determine certain personality traits.

Firstborns and only children

Firstborns enjoy their parents' full attention for a set amount of time — until a sibling arrives. This obviously puts the firstborn in a unique position as the other siblings won't have this luxury. However, once the siblings do arrive, the oldest is thrust into a new position where they may be expected to take on more responsibility and provide a good example for their younger siblings. Firstborns are said to be cautious and responsible overachievers. They may also feel like they had to grow up too soon


If the parents are "one and done" and opt not to have any more children, then there is a shift. The only child will most likely have more exposure to the world of the parents than other children and they can be labeled as mature for their age. Only children may struggle with perfectionism or pressure from their parents to perform and excel. And while they'll have opportunities to become community-minded in school settings, sharing is, of course, thought to be one of the main challenges for only children.

The middle child and the baby of the family

Middle children, often thought to get lost in the shuffle, typically fall into one of two categories: the rebel or the peacemaker. In order to ensure their needs will be met, they may make their voices heard through big behaviors or alternatively, they may resort to mediating conflict between siblings. It's also possible that if the oldest sibling has a developmental delay, then the middle child will intuitively take on some of the responsibilities and traits typically assigned to the firstborn.


And then we have the baby of the family. Often thought to be the most desirable position in the birth order, the youngest sibling is babied far longer than the oldest siblings were and the parents have already been around the block a time or two. The youngest of the family tends to be energetic, charming, and outgoing. It's also possible that mom and dad may be further along in life and have more stability than they did as brand-new parents — which benefits the youngest a fair bit.