Study: Birth Order Can Affect Intelligence

NEW YORK, Aug. 12 (UPI) — Birth order in families, long blamed for sibling rivalries, may also affect children’s personality and intelligence, a study suggests.

A study led by Tiffany L. Frank of Adelphi University in New York found first-borns are typically smarter while younger siblings get better grades and are more outgoing, LiveScience.com report Thursday.


The findings give clues about the influence of sibling relationships, which often receive less attention than the mother-child or father-child relationship, Frank said.

In the study, Frank and her colleagues surveyed 90 pairs of siblings in high school who were asked to report on their grades and then rank themselves against their siblings on intelligence, work ethic and academic performance.

In a second study, subjects were rated on a series of statements meant to assess personality.

First-borns received higher tests scores, in math and verbal ability, while later born children had better grade point averages in English and math, the study found. Later-born siblings were found to be more extroverted, sentimental, forgiving and open to new experiences than their older siblings.

Frank suggests first-borns might score higher on measures of intelligence because for part of their lives they were the sole recipients of their parents’ attention. Younger siblings might earn better grades because they received mentoring from first-borns who had already taken certain subjects, the researchers say.

Younger siblings might be more open to new experiences because they “see the obstacles that their older siblings have overcome and therefore feel more secure in challenging themselves,” the researchers say.

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