The idea that the order of one’s birth in a family helps shape one’s personality; slightly more respected than phrenology in this day and age…

Although some analyses include categories such as twins, adopted children, “ghost children” (a child who died in infancy, but whose significance to the family is still felt by remaining siblings), the only girl in a family of boys and vice versa,1 basic birth order theory can be broken down into three categories; firstborn/ only child, second born/ middle child, and youngest. Of course, even those who put great faith in these theories acknowledge the influence of other factors in shaping children’s personalities: these include gender, the number of years between children in a family, the total number of children in a family, parental attitudes, and the social and economic position of the family.

People who adhere to this theory have extended it beyond the impact on the family of origin to include which birth orders should marry, and which are the best/ worst to work with.

Without further ado…

Oldest / only child

Only children

in addition to the above characteristics:
  • Conscientious, well-organized; list makers, reliable.
  • Are often the center of their parents’ attention; can be spoiled or over-protected.
  • May prefer adult company, even as children; may be loners and have trouble relating to or sharing with peers.

Second born/ middle child

Youngest child

Notes: 1Henry T. Stein, Ph.D, Alderian Overview of Birth Order Characteristics, , 4/28/02; See also Alfred Adler, What Life Could Mean to You 2 and   4 Daniel Eckstein, Ph.D, Birth Order and Personality Differences, , 4/28/02 3Dr. Kevin Leman, The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, quoted in Kelly Woo, Birth order can say a lot about your family, , 4/28/02

E2 is unfriendly to youngest siblings?

The following are the results of the recent Adler, Sulloway, and Zajonc invade E2 survey:

What is your birth order?

50.50% (51) I am the oldest
14.85% (15) I am an only child
11.88% (12) I am the youngest
07.92% (08) I am near the middle
02.97% (03) I wasn't born. I came into this world as a fully formed adult... with secret super-powers too
02.97% (03) None of the above.
01.98% (02) I was functionally an only child, because everyone else left home
01.98% (02) I was functionally the oldest growing up, because the older ones already left
01.98% (02) I was functionally the youngest growing up, because the younger ones lived elsewhere
01.98% (02) I grew up in a non-family environment
00.99% (01) I am one of the youngest middle children

Oldest siblings appear to be over-represented in the survey - if all siblings were to be represented, one would expect approximately equal numbers of oldest and youngest siblings. What conclusions can we draw from this? Maybe not much other than wild conjecture, but it does seems to point to some sort of psychological trend, even if we don't know the cause.

Some possible explanations:
1. A hacker broke into the database and falsified the results.
2. An E2 god used his powers to "massage" the data.
3. Everythingians like to claim they are oldest children, even when they are not.
4. Youngest siblings don't like to vote in surveys like this as much.
5. Youngest siblings don't spend as much time on the internet.
6. Youngest siblings don't like the type of social networking site that E2 represents, and prefer some other kind of website.
7. A sample size of 101 tells you nothing.
8. The Custodian says: Maybe oldest siblings are more comfortable assuming the mantle of 'explaining' things?

Any other possible explanations? Please /msg me. Personally, I was quite surprised at the results of this survey, so if you can "un-surprise" me, I'd be grateful =)

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