Do my siblings make me who I am?


| 8 Comments

I come  from what some people may see as a strange family compared to many others. I am the baby of the family; I have one older bother and one older sister. Growing up, and even today, I constantly hear people complaining about how horrible their relationships are with their siblings. How they are fighting all the time, and even go as far to say that they actually hate their sibling. I have always had great relationships with my brother and sister, and think that they had a large part of making me the person I am today. So, when people say how often they hate their siblings, this was something I never understood. Recently, in my personality psychology class, I learned that birth order and siblings could be extremely important to one's disposition. Where you are in the family can greatly determine your personality. Your birth order can effect so many aspects of your life like how you do in sports, academics, social life and so much more. So, it started to make more sense why some siblings would not get along as well when I learned about the corresponding characteristics in birth order. Here were some of the general things that we learned about siblings, maybe you might find it interesting if you relate to any of this. I know that there was a lot of overlap when it came to my family.

sibling-rivalry.jpeg

Only Child

·       Greatest need for achievement

·       High achiever than all except oldest children

·       Most likely to go to college

·       Most likely to manifest behavior problems

·       Lowest need for affiliation (communion)

·       Most selfish

·       May have over-protective or neurotic parents

Middle child

·       Greatest feeling of not belonging.

·       Fewest acting out problems.

·       Highest rate of success in team sports.

·       Tend to be competitive in areas not attempted by oldest children.

·       More likely to be faithful within monogamous relationships.

 

Oldest child

·       Highest achieving, highest need for achievement

·       Greatest academic success

·       Over-represented among learned groups like college students, faculty, presidents

·       Most likely to be leaders

The baby

·       Highest social interest and agreeableness.

·       Most rebellious.

·       Most empathic

·       Most likely to abuse alcohol

·       Overrepresented among psychiatri populations, writers (not drawing a parallel)

·       More artistic, less scientific

Other issues for birth order

·       Only a tendency, not a certainty.

·       Also influenced by parenting styles, total # of children in family, gender combinations of siblings, etc.

·       Distance (in years) between siblings can matter

·       Divorce and re-marrying can matter

 

 

Does any of that correlate with you? I know it definitely does with me. But why is this? Is there

 scientific reasoning? Is it all psychological? Well, apparently scientists are trying to find out 

through various ways. I happened upon survey that was supposed to tell you your birth

 order based on your responses, however personally it 

was not accurate. As I researched the topic further, I found that this has actually been a topic 

studied by scientists for many years, according to an article from cbsnews. In this article they

 explain another type of experiment that, for

 the most part, was also based on self-report and came up with similar conclusions to the ones that I learned in class.

However, what I was unable to find was a true scientific experiment, and I thought to wonder 

why this was. You can only learn so much from surveys, and you can't determine a true causal 

relationship without experimenting. But it did not take me long to realize why. There is no real 

way to manipulate the variables studied in these types of experiments. You can't pre-determine 

what birth order a person is, you can only study the after effects. Additionally, there are way too 

many alternative variables that one cannot account for like I named above. So, I guess the only

 method we can really use is self-reports. But do you agree this is good enough? Do you agree 

that these are accurate?

 

8 Comments

This is a really interesting post. Like you, I am the baby of my family, with an older sister and an older brother. I remember an article that TIME magazine published a while ago (I just found it, it's actually from 2001) in which they also discussed how siblings often shape who children grow up to be. The thing that interested me the most in your post is the idea that the age gap in siblings greatly effects the tendencies of birth order. With my siblings being a decade older than me, they are more like parent figures than anything else. The question I have about this, is do step-siblings have nearly the impact on each other as biological siblings?


http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,999887,00.html

That's a really good point. I think that it would all come down to at what age did you become step siblings? Like I know that my dad gained step siblings when he was in his late twenties. At this point, I don't think that it would have much effect. Growing up, excelling in academics or sports, and following in your siblings' foot steps or setting an example for your younger siblings to follow are the key aspects that I believe cause siblings to have such an effect. So, if you grew up with your step siblings I think that they would have largely the same effect.

I have very good relationships with my brothers so the title of this blog caught my eye. I am the youngest with two older brothers. Reading the description related to birth order and the type of person do not match of for my family. Reason being is that events took place in my life where they affected my brothers and I differently due our age and maturity at the time of the event. For example, my parents divorced when I was 8, and my brothers were 13 and 14. It was a lot harder on my brothers and effected them in harsher ways then it did for me. Both of my brothers go into drugs and alcohol and neither attented college. Where as with me, I was very young and did not fully understand what was happeneding so the effects were much less server for me. I do believe that birth order can have an effect on an individual, but I also believe that there are many other factors that play an effect as well. I believe that gender and the amount of other same-sex siblings has an effect. Also, life events will play a huge role as well. Do to so many different factors I can understand why studies cannot be conducted to better understand birth order and personalty.

That is a very interesting idea. I'm not sure if you realized, but I did about the many other variables that can change how much birth order can have an effect. Some of these variables were that it's only a tendency, not a certainty, it's also influenced by parenting styles, total # of children in family, gender combinations of siblings, etc. Distance (in years) between siblings can also matter as well as divorce and re-marrying, which I think was the case with you. So aside from never being able to experimentally test these ideas, these alternative variables can have such a large impact as they did with you are your siblings.

I think this post definitely brings up some great points. I am the oldest of two, my sister is three years younger, and we have always had a really great relationship. We fought alot when we were in our pre-teens/teens, but we've both matured and we have a really good relationship. We're not like some sibling pairs that share everything with each other, but we know enough about the other's life that we feel like we know them well enough. I think our lifestyles also have a good influence on each other. As an older sibling, I always felt like I had to set a good example for my sister and I think she definitely felt influenced by that. Additionally, we each have different interests and I think that has given us new perspective on each other's hobbies. Being involved in theater my whole life, my sister really appreciated theater and was able to develop a musical ear. She was able to determine what sounded good and bad from all her experiences of seeing me on stage. Likewise, my sister is a monstrous athletic talent and I've really come to enjoy the sports she plays. I am not a sports person at all, but one of the highlights of my Thanksgiving break was seeing my sister's championship field hockey game. In that respect, I think a sibling's interests, especially something you don't have in common with each other, can give a whole new meaning to the other sibling.

I learned all about this in my high school AP psychology class. Professionals say that your birth order has almost everything to do with your personality. They truly believe that birth order determines the type of person you will become. I found an order in Scientific American (given below) that says, "Two studies from the past three years finally found measurable effects: our position in the family does indeed affect both our IQ and our personality. It may be time to reconsider birth order as a real influence over whom we grow up to be." It goes on to describe the studies and how it backs up their hypothesis. It is so interesting that something that seems so insignificant turns out to shape a person almost entirely!

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ruled-by-birth-order

While I do think there is some truth to these claims, I would add that it is how your environment raises you in response to the order of your birth that influences you the most so it would pretty much be all psychological. I certainly wouldn't say it's in any way genetic. There have also been some studies where if there is enough of a gap between when the first and second child are born, either may act more like an oldest sibling or even an only child because they are influenced so little by their brother/sister throughout their childhood. I along with my 4 siblings, only meet about half the criteria for our "position" in the family, although we don't all live together so that could affect it as well. My youngest sister seems a little more like an only child whereas the older of my 2 little brothers doesn't like sports and acts out more where the other brother is just the opposite. My siblings and I are close even though most of us have very little in common, although that probably stems from having even less in common with our parents. Your relationships with other family members could affect this too I think.

i think topics like this bring in a lot of questions of nature vs. nurture. Are we predisposition to be the way we are, or is our personality due to our environment and how we are raised from a young age? Psychologists have studied this for years, and it seems that our personalities derive from a combination of both. So I'm the baby of the family, and while I'm definitely the most artistic and creative and least scientific of my family, I'm not the most rebellious. So I guess I've developed some of the traits that go with my place in the family, I've been molded a little differently given the combination of my nature and nurture.

http://genealogy.about.com/cs/geneticgenealogy/a/nature_nurture.htm
http://psychology.about.com/od/nindex/g/nature-nurture.htm

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